Water for South Sudan reached a significant milestone last week with the drilling of our 300th well. Starting with our first well, drilled in Founder Salva Dut's village in 2005, we have not stopped in our mission to bring access to clean water in South Sudan. Despite continuing challenges in South Sudan, our work continues, and we continue to transform lives.
Water for South Sudan's 2017 season is winding down as the end of the dry season approaches in May. Once the rainy season starts in earnest our vehicles are not able to travel through the muddy "roads" of South Sudan. Until the rains come, however, our drilling, rehab and hygiene teams will continue to reach remote, rural villages in need of clean water and hygiene education.
Our drilling team, led by "A.J" Agok, our Assistant Country Director, has drilled 19 new wells this season, bringing our total to over 300 wells drilled since 2005. Each new well brings greater health and stability to a village. Access to clean water means that girls and women no longer have to walk miles to gather water that is often dirty and contaminated. A well in a village can be the first step toward stability and development. Markets, schools and clinics can grow up in a village that has access to water.
Our pilot well rehabilitation team, led by WFSS Country Director Ater Thiep, has had a very successful year, going over their original goal of rehabilitating 20 of our oldest wells, and has repaired 26 wells as of April 24, 2017. The creation of the rehab team grew out of our 2015 well evaluation trip in which we were able to visit 80 of our wells. While we found that all wells were operational and producing fresh water, we also found that the cement platforms on some of the oldest wells were worn and eroded. This prompted a look at our procedures, and led to an improvement on many aspects. Our rehab team reports that villagers are very pleased with the results.
Both the drilling team and rehab team are using a new design this year, which includes better cement mixing for the cement platforms and animal drinking troughs. Our US Operations Team designed a long narrow drinking trough, leading away from the well head, for animals to drink. This allows villagers to get water for their animals without adding more wear and tear on the cement, and also keeps the animals away from the well head. Other NGOs in South Sudan have been interested in our new design and have given us positive feedback on its efficiency.
In addition to drilling and rehab, we now have two hygiene education teams, one each traveling with the drilling and rehab teams, helping to improve hygiene practices in every village we visit.
WFSS strives to involve community members, and give local ownership in everything we do. Wells are installed after consulting with county officials, and village elders determine final placement of the wells. Hygiene education addresses the specific needs of a village, training four men and four women in each village. These villagers can then train others, helping to share education which improve health, hygiene, and the impact of clean water.
The 2017 season will be coming to a close soon. Once this season ends we will debrief with our team and begin plans for the next season.
South Sudan faces many challenges, but our teams are safe and able to do their work. We are in continual contact with them and are always assessing the safety and security both in the country, and in the areas in which we work. Our team assures us that our work can continue.
Water for South Sudan thanks all of our supporters, across the US and around the world, who enable our work.