Where does WFSS drill?

WFSS currently drills mostly in remote villages in the Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan. 

How much does it cost to drill a well? 

Currently, the full cost to drill a well is $15,000. This cost is determined by the cost of materials in Africa, the difficulty in transporting these materials into remote areas, and the heavy equipment needed to drill deeply, often through rocky soil.

Where does the water for the well come from?

There is a deep underground aquifer that is refilled each year by rain. This aquifer does not run out during the dry season and ensures that villagers have a consistent source of water year-round. The depth of the aquifer helps keep the water clean and uncontaminated. The drilling team looks for lines of tall trees to find where the aquifer lies.

How does the drilling team determine where to drill a well?

WFSS consults with the Government of South Sudan, and local county governments, to determine the general areas in which we will drill. The final decision is made by the county commissioner in consultation with the village chiefs in each area.

How deep do you have to drill?

The drilling team may have to drill down to 300 feet to reach the renewable aquifer

Do villagers help with the drilling process?

Villagers help in many ways! They clear brush and small trees so that our vehicles can reach the drilling areas. They dig two mud pits to hold the water used for drilling, carry bricks and heavy bags of cement, and scoop gravel. They build a fence around the well to keep animals away. They also help during the assessment process by showing us where to get water needed for drilling and for drilling team's personal use.

How are the wells maintained?

The villagers choose two people to be in charge of the well. WFSS then trains them how to maintain and repair the wells.

How much water can a well produce?

The pumps we use can produce 15 Liters (4 Gallons) per minute, up to 21,000 Liters (9,409 Gallons) per day.

Are all of your wells still working?

To the best of our knowledge all wells installed by WFSS are still working. We revisit many areas in which we have previously drilled and have recorded all wells in working order. WFSS is now evaluating older wells every year. Our new rehab team is now rehabilitating older wells in need of repair every year.

When can you drill wells in South Sudan?

We are able to drill during the dry season in South Sudan, approximately December through May. During the rainy season the “roads” in South Sudan turn to mud, and our heavy equipment and trucks are unable to travel. In addition, it is difficult to drill in the rainy season as it is more difficult to locate the true source of water in the aquifer.

Do you test the water in the wells?

Yes, we test the water that comes out of each well we drill.

What kind of drilling rig do you use?

We are currently using a Deep Rock drilling rig, the DR-150, equipped with a mud pump and compressor to be able to drill through layers of rock. We have just purchased our new "Iron Giraffe" - a PAT 501 rig.

What kind of pump is on the wells?

We use the India Mark II, which is the most widely used hand pump in the world.

A Long Walk to Water

How can I get in touch with Salva Dut?

Salva regrets that he cannot answer individual e-mails or letters.  He now lives in Africa, serving as Senior Advisor to the WFSS teams in South Sudan and the US. Read more about Salva on our website here. You can also watch his TEDx talk, I Kept Walking.

How can I get in touch with Linda Sue Park, the author of A Long Walk to Water? Can she visit our school?

You can write to the following address:
Linda Sue Park
c/o Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
(Please note that Linda Sue does not always receive mail in a timely manner, and it usually takes at least two months to receive a reply.)

Linda Sue regrets that for the foreseeable future, she is unavailable for in-person or virtual school visits. If your school is interested in learning more about A Long Walk to Water, she strongly recommends a video call or a visit from author/illustrator Jim Averbeck. Jim knows all about Salva's story because he illustrated the original version, which appeared as a newspaper serial. He's also written and illustrated several other wonderful books. You can contact him via E-mail at: inablueroom@gmail.com (inablueroom at gmail dot com). Click here for more information.

Can Salva Dut come visit our school or do a video call?

Given Salva’s popularity with so many students reading A Long Walk to Water, we receive many, many requests for Salva to visit or do video calls with students. We are sorry to say that Salva is not able to make individual school visits or video calls. Salva lives full-time in Africa, only visiting the United States a few times each year, and any individual school visits that Salva makes are very special occasions. Those school visits always coincide with multiple events in the local community and substantial fundraising efforts.

There is a chance to win a visit for your school every year through our Iron Giraffe Challenge. Schools around the world commit to try and raise $1,000 and those that do are entered into a drawing to win a visit from Salva. Other prizes include video calls with Salva, Linda Sue Park, and our Country Directors in South Sudan, Lion and AJ.

In addition, WFSS staff and board members are available to do video calls and some visits with schools. Please download the speaker request form for more information.  An honorarium may apply. 

We would like to donate money to Water for South Sudan, or help in other ways. How can we do that?

It’s great that you want to help! Click here to find out how. See the Fundraiser Support Materials available to you.

Please see details on our Iron Giraffe Challenge for schools!

How much does it cost to drill a well?  Can our school get our name on a well?

The full cost to drill a well is about $15,000.  WFSS does offer the possibility of sponsoring a well starting at the $5,000 donation level. Please see our sponsorship page for details.

Is Nya a real person? Can I write to her?

Nya is not a real person. She is a fictional representation of many children who live in South Sudan. If she were a real person, she would be very happy to know that you have read about her and are interested in her story!

How old is Salva Now? When is his birthday?

Salva was born on December 1, 1974.

Can you recommend other books about the Lost Boys?

JUST ADD WATER, by Robin Hill and Charles Hall, illustrated by Sherry Stasse Wright, published by Water for South Sudan.  Salva Dut's story written for younger readers, grades three to six. Order the book here. 

THEY POURED FIRE ON US FROM THE SKY, by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsian Deng, and Judy Bernstein. Adult memoir by three ‘Lost Boys’. Advanced middle-school readers and up.

WHAT IS THE WHAT, by Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng. Adult novel re-creating the story of a ‘Lost Boy’ refugee who settled in Atlanta. High school and up.

BROTHERS IN HOPE, by Mary Williams, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Picture book, ages 9-12.

GOD GREW TIRED OF US: A MEMOIR, by John Bul Dau and Michael S. Sweeney. This is a stark, first-person account of trauma and survival. Dau tells it quietly, in fast, simple prose true to the young teen's viewpoint. There is also a Sundance award winning film by the same title featuring John Bul Dau.

Additional Information

Media Library

Salva TEDx Talk “I Kept Walking”

A Long Walk to Water Book Reviews