2017 Season Begins! New Wells, Rehabbed Wells & Hygiene Education

 The WFSS team with the first new well of the 2017 season.

The WFSS team with the first new well of the 2017 season.

The months of planning and preparation are finally behind us and the 2017 season has officially begun. The drilling team has begun drilling wells; the rehab team has begun rehabilitating some of our oldest wells; and our two hygiene education teams are working alongside them both, helping to improve hygiene practices.

The drilling team plans to drill up to 40 new wells. They have begun in Waubaai County, in the new Wau State and will also drill in Kuac North County, in the new Gogrial State, to deliver on their promise to the county commissioner and village chiefs last season, when we did not have enough time to drill wells there. This year's drilling will focus on schools and new county and payam headquarters.

Our new rehab team will work on repairing some of our oldest wells, drilled as far back as 2005, in Alabek County, in the new Tonj State.

Hygiene Education Continues & Expands

As we have done since 2014, the WFSS Hygiene Education Team will travel alongside the drilling team. New this year is a second hygiene education team, to travel with the rehab team. In every village our hygiene teams train eight people (four men and four women). Our hygiene educators work as facilitators, and invite community participation to help groups identify issues of importance, and problems to work on; identify possible solutions; select appropriate options; develop an implementation plan; and, evaluate the outcome of the plan. Three main areas of education often focus on hand-washing, keeping clean water clean, and safe disposal of stools.

Since 2014 the WFSS Hygiene Team has brought hygiene education training to over 100 villages, training over 800 villagers who are then equipped to train others in their villages, which then continues to expand the impact of clean water.

New WFSS Leadership Council

The ever-challenging climate in which we operate, including a lack of basic infrastructure, and logistics challenges, require creative thinking and dedication, which are supplied by our team in South Sudan, and our Operations support in the US.

New this year is our Leadership Council in South Sudan, led by Country Director Ater Akol Thiep and Assistant Country Director AJ Agok. We created the council, made up of our six managers in South Sudan, to help oversee operations on the ground.

Operations are still overseen by US Director of Operations Don Fairman, but we are moving towards even greater local control in South Sudan. Our team in South Sudan knows the people, language, customs, and land in which they operate, and often know best how to address the many issues that arise.

As WFSS continues our work in bringing access to clean water and hygiene education, we are also researching ways to bring access to sanitation (toilets and latrines) to those we serve. In 2017, we will continue gathering information on how we might best expand into this area, possibly collaborating with others.

In other good news, we have already been able to purchase two trucks and a crew vehicle with funds raised from our Watering the Seeds of Change capital campaign. Next up is the process to begin ordering our new drilling rig.

Thanks to our supporters across the US, and around the world, WFSS is able to continue our work, transforming lives in South Sudan. We look forward to bringing access to clean water and hygiene education to even more people this year. WFSS has now drilled 283 wells since 2005, and we look forward to reaching our next milestone of 300 wells.

WFSS Prepares for 13th Season

 WFSS team at planning meeting in kampala. 

WFSS team at planning meeting in kampala. 

When one season ends, the WFSS team begins planning for the next. Plans are well underway for WFSS's 13th season, set to start in early January.

When we finished the 2015-16 season in May, the South Sudan team in Wau, supported by our Director of Operations, Board members and staff in Rochester, NY, immediately began planning for this coming season. Team members reviewed design improvements and discussed ways to help villagers protect wells and prolong sustainability. Discussions included ways to include fencing or other protections around the wells. Improvements will be implemented this season, both for new wells, and for rehabilitating older wells

 wfss country director ater thiep, hygiene manager mathew akuar and assistant country director aj agok with loaded supply truck in kampala

wfss country director ater thiep, hygiene manager mathew akuar and assistant country director aj agok with loaded supply truck in kampala

Preparing for the upcoming season also includes substantial logistics to ensure our teams have all the supplies they need to drill and rehabilitate wells and provide hygiene education. The South Sudan Management Team, including Country Director Ater "Lion" Thiep, Assistant County Director Ajang "AJ" Agok, are currently in Kampala, Uganda, where they are procuring necessary supplies for drilling and rehabilitation of wells. The supplies will then be trucked north to South Sudan in time to start drilling in early January. In addition, WFSS has recently sent a large shipping container from Rochester, NY with additional supplies that are best obtained in the US.

In addition to drilling new wells, WFSS's new rehab team will begin visiting some of our oldest wells to perform repairs as needed, and bring wells up to new design specifications. WFSS will continue our hygiene education with two hygiene teams. Teams will help villagers improve hygiene practices  in every village in which we drill, and in every village in which we rehabilitate a well. Research plans are also continuing into a possible sanitation project.

WFSS also plans to continue the success of our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP) with Omaha, Nebraska- based Aqua-Africa. The UPDP plan includes more wells. We are also exploring ways to include peace and reconciliation talks in areas where we will drill UPDP wells.

Thanks to our supporters from across the US and around the world we are able to continue in our mission to transform lives in South Sudan.

WFSS Continues to Transform Lives & Water the Seeds of Change in South Sudan

WFSS Team & United Peace & Development Project Provide 23 New Wells in 2016. 282 Wells Drilled Since 2005.

 WFSS IS SUPPORTED BY DONORS IN ALL 50 US STATES, AND 32 OTHER COUNTRIES.

WFSS IS SUPPORTED BY DONORS IN ALL 50 US STATES, AND 32 OTHER COUNTRIES.

WFSS is pleased to announce the conclusion of another successful season. We continue to make progress in every way-- improving design and delivery of services, developing our employees both in the US and South Sudan, which all leads to greater sustainability for the organization, and the work that we do, and enables us to better serve the people of South Sudan. 

The WFSS  team was able to drill 20 new wells, and our United Peace and Development Project with Aqua-Africa added an additional three wells for a season total of 23 new wells. Since 2005, WFSS has provided 282 wells in remote villages in South Sudan.

As our number of wells drilled, and people served, grows, so do the supporters around the world who enable our work. With the recent addition of Cambodia, we are pleased to announce that 32 countries, in addition to the US, support WFSS.

As our South Sudan and US operations teams work to always improve our processes, they also strive to make better use of time and resources. When the start of this year's season was delayed, the drilling team used the extra time to repair 20 wells drilled by other organizations near our compound in Wau.

We thank our South Sudan management team, Salva Dut, Executive Director for East African Operations, Ater Akol Thiep and Ajang Abrahm Agok, our Field Operations Managers, Abraham Majur Laam, our Operations Center Manager, and Mathew Akuar, our Hygiene Team Manager, for all they do to support our mission.

WFSS Hygiene Education Expands Impact of Clean Water

 boys bathing in gaikou village

boys bathing in gaikou village

Since 2014, the WFSS hygiene team has traveled with the drilling team to help villagers improve hygiene practices in every village in which we drill. The hygiene team trains a team of eight people (four men and four women) who can then train others. The WFSS team works with the trainers to identify areas in need of improvement in their village. Improved hygiene helps expand the impact of clean water, and leads to better health for all.

In Gaikou village, Achan Aguei told the team that villagers were suffering for a long time from drinking stagnant water, sometimes the same water where people might bathe and clean their clothes and utensils.  "We were not aware that you can wash the inside of jerry cans with ash, gravel and soap," she said.

 WFSS hygiene team helps villagers in gaikou identify hygiene areas needing improvement

WFSS hygiene team helps villagers in gaikou identify hygiene areas needing improvement

Gau Majok, also of Gaikou village,  noted that his community did not know that contaminated water made them sick. 

"After Water for South Sudan, drilled a well for us and trained us about water and hygiene management, we realized that we were drinking water with germs and we had bad hygiene at our homes before and from now on we will call a meeting to tell everybody about water and new hygiene promoting ways, as taught by Water for South Sudan hygiene team, which is the first time for us to receive well/borehole and new hygiene promotion training. I appreciate Water for South Sudan, administration and management where ever you are, thank you so much for help."

Achan noted how much life can improve with hygiene training. 

"Now when we compare our life before, with simple things that Water for South Sudan has shown us with two days training, it helps me now to know what is good and bad. Thanks to Water for South Sudan. I hope Water for South Sudan will help other people in South Sudan like us also."

 

United Peace & Development Project Continues

The United Peace & Development Project (UPDP) began in 2014, with Water for South Sudan and Omaha, Nebraska based Aqua-Africa (A-A) coming together to drill water wells in South Sudan. The leaders of the two organizations, Salva Dut (WFSS) and Buey Ray Tut (A-A) saw the value of working together as South Sudanese to help their new country develop, despite being from the two major tribes, Dinka and Nuer, who have historically been in conflict. Since December 2013, the unrest and power struggles in the country have centered on issues between leaders from the two tribes.

 united peace & development well drilled in 2015

united peace & development well drilled in 2015

The UPDP continued through 2016, with three new wells being drilled, for a total of 12 wells drilled overall, in various parts of the country, in different tribal areas.

One of the 2016 wells was drilled in Langabu, in Central Equatoria State, where Limoba Jory, a widowed mother of two, cultivates and sells charcoal for a living. When asked about the challenges of water, she pointed to a six foot hole surrounded by thirsty bees. She explained how she must leave her children home alone even though there is a threat of child kidnappers.

“I wait in queue before the sun rises and when it’s my turn, I have to dig until I find water,” she said.

After the completion of the drilling, the UPDP team returned to follow-up and asked how the conflict in South Sudan has affected people. Mrs. Jory explained that the conflict has not impacted their day to day living as they are removed from conflict areas. But she noted the value of getting clean water, and the impact of those providing it.

“We hear a lot of things but the only thing I know for a fact about the Nuer and Dinka now is that they give my children clean water.” 

WFSS and A-A will continue working on the UPDP, bringing access to fresh water, along with peace and development, in the newest country in the world.

WFSS Prepares for 2014-15 Season

 Loading supply truck in Kampala, Uganda. Team will then drive equipment to South Sudan.

Loading supply truck in Kampala, Uganda. Team will then drive equipment to South Sudan.

Water for South Sudan drilled its first well in the village of Akok in North Tonj County in 2005. We’ve come a long way in 10 years, but we are stilling bringing access to clean water one well at a time.

The 2014-15 drilling season is set to begin in December, but the WFSS team has been preparing for months. Equipment needs and repairs are always high on our list, and the team has been working on this since June. Next comes ordering crucial drilling supplies in Kampala, Uganda. The new country of South Sudan does not yet have the capability to meet all of our supply needs, so the WFSS team travels to Kampala before each drilling season to gather needed supplies, including pumps and pipes, and then drives north to South Sudan.

With 10 years’ experience of all the logistics, from equipment to travel to government regulations, our team knows there are always challenges that could delay them. There are numerous customs and taxation paperwork for the team to complete when they reach the border of South Sudan, and then they continue on to our compound in Wau. This year the team was slightly delayed in Kampala as a major bridge was out on the road between Juba (South Sudan's capital city) and Wau, WFSS operations center. As this is the only main road between these two urban centers, there was a long backup as trucks and other vehicles waited for the bridge to be repaired. The delays rippled all the way down to Kampala, as trucks were in short supply with so many being delayed on the Juba to Wau road.

As this newsletter is being written, the trucks have been loaded with supplies, and Salva is already preparing customs paperwork in Juba. Once the team completes the necessary paperwork they can continue on to the WFSS operations center in Wau.

WFSS goals for the 2014-15 season are to:

Drill up to 40 new wells in remote areas currently without access to clean water.

Train eight men and eight women in hygiene practices in each village where we work, giving them the tools to train others, spreading improvement in hygiene and decreasing disease as a result.

Continue the United Peace and Development Project. This season WFSS and Aqua-Africa plan to drill six more wells in Dinka and Nuer areas.

Begin a more formal monitoring and evaluation process.  A team will travel to South Sudan to visit a sampling of wells, including some of the first wells drilled by WFSS, and use a formal assessment tool to gather data. This process will be standardized for future use to ensure continuous improvement and sustainability of our operations.

 WFSS remains committed to helping the people of South Sudan. We look forward to another successful season!