Water for South Sudan finished its 2013-14 drilling season in May with 40 new wells, bringing the grand total to 217 wells drilled by the organization since 2005. WFSS wells are now serving over 500,000 people in South Sudan. Each well brings access to clean water to thousands. A new well can also be the catalyst for development and a new future for each village.
The team faced the usual challenges of harsh conditions, lack of infrastructure in the new country and extreme temperatures, often reaching 120° and higher. This year there was the additional issue of conflict in parts of South Sudan. While some of the challenges slowed down the team, particularly equipment breakdowns, they were still able to reach their goal of 40 new wells.
Conflict broke out in the capital city of Juba in December, 2013, just as the WFSS drilling season was starting. Salva and the WFSS team were able to continue drilling as the unrest was primarily in eastern parts of the country, far from the WFSS drilling areas in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap States.
WFSS continues to monitor the situation in South Sudan and strongly supports the ongoing peace process. Salva Dut, WFSS Founder and Executive Director for East African Operations, notes that all parties engaged in the peace process must continue working for a lasting peace. He urges all advocating for peace, including the UN, US, Europe and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development- an eight-country trading bloc based in Eastern Africa that is leading peace talks) to continue the pressure on the opposing parties in South Sudan to come to a peaceful solution.
"We should not give up on that," says Salva. "War comes and goes in South Sudan, but we will find a way to be peaceful. Peace will come from the people."
The WFSS Board of Directors expressed its gratitude to the WFSS South Sudan team at its recent annual board meeting, noting that in addition to drilling 40 wells, the team launched a new hygiene education project (see story below) and also continued the work of repairing wells drilled by other organizations. In 2013-14 WFSS repaired 17 of those broken wells.
"The success of this season was unprecedented," noted WFSS Board President Christopher Moore at the 2014 Annual Meeting. "We are grateful to the entire team, and especially for the leadership of Salva Dut, Ater Thiep and John Mourwel in achieving, and surpassing, the goals of this season."
The team traveled to Rochester, New York, USA, in June for annual meetings with WFSS staff and board of directors. They debriefed on this past season and are already planning for the 2014-15 season.