Here is another post in our continuing series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.
The water crisis in South Sudan plays a large role in the lack of education available for school-aged children. South Sudanese who do not have access to clean water—about 68%—have to leave their villages and move for six months out of the year in order to find water. Thus, schools are not able to be sustained, so they are not built. In addition, many children’s parents succumb to diseases such as HIV/AIDS. This leaves these children as orphans and therefore responsible for finding work. They now have to provide for themselves and their siblings instead of seeking the opportunity to obtain an education. In Sudan and South Sudan combined, there are about 2 million orphaned children.
The lack of access to clean water, however, especially affects girls. Girls are responsible for finding water for their families for up to eight hours per day. Thus, these girls cannot even attend school if there is a school in their village. If these girls are orphans, they also cannot find ways to provide for themselves because they are so busy trying to find water. If girls do attend school, they often have to drop out once they reach puberty if their schools do not have clean-water access. This is because they do not have use of proper toilets to take care of hygiene issues. Only 33% of South Sudanese girls attend school, and a mere 16% of girls ages 15 and older are literate.
This is a problem that Water for South Sudan (WFSS) works to remedy. One of WFSS’ missions is to raise money to drill clean-water wells in South Sudan so that more children can have the opportunity to go to school. If children and young people have clean water and can go to school, their opportunities for advancement are significantly increased. Thus, they can sustain a livelihood.