2018-19 Season Begins for Rehab Team

 Children gather around newly rehabilitated well in Jur River County.

Children gather around newly rehabilitated well in Jur River County.

The WFSS team in South Sudan has been preparing for the 2018-19 season since we ended the last season in May. Plans for 2018-19 include drilling 40 new wells, rehabilitating up to 50 older wells, and providing hygiene education in every village where we drill or rehab a well. We will also continue monitoring the pilot latrine project that was installed this year at Zogolona Primary School in Wau.

The rehab team got an early start this year, heading out in early October. As of November 1 they had already rehabbed 13 older wells, and provided hygiene education in all 13 villages. Older wells, while still producing water, often show signs of erosion and wear. The rehab team visits older WFSS wells to bring them up to new design standards. They make any necessary repairs and then rebuild the cement platform and drainage channel around the well, thus ensuring the well will have many more years of use.

In recent conversations with villagers whose wells were rehabbed we have learned more about the impact of our work. Aluel Wol Nuer was originally trained on well maintenance when a well was drilled in the village of Majama in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, and shared with us how much life has improved since the well was drilled in 2013.

 Clean water continues to flow from a rehabbed well in Bahr-Sherki in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

Clean water continues to flow from a rehabbed well in Bahr-Sherki in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

“My life was so bad before the WFSS team arrived in the village,” he said. “We used to drink unclean water which led to sickness. Distance was also quite long; sometimes we may get water, or we may not. People may also sleep on an empty stomach, due to lack of water.”

Sunday Emmnauel Kenyi of Sumut village in Warrap State also shared how hard life was.

“We did drink dirty water,” he recalled. “We were getting waterborne diseases when we used water from unprotected sources.”

Both villagers enthusiasitcally noted the positive impact on their lives and villages.

“I can see the changes in many areas,” said Wol Nuer.

Emmanuel Kenyi agreed. “My life has improved,” he said. “WFSS has helped with clean water. Now we can drink clean water which can make a good quality of life. Our animals are also enjoying water together with us since the well has been drilled.”

Villages where WFSS drilled before 2014 did not receive hygiene training when wells were installed, so a hygiene team now travels with the rehab team to help train villagers in improved hygiene practices.

Drilling Team Preparing for End of November Start

The drilling team requires more preparation to begin a new season, as many more supplies are needed for drilling new wells. WFSS Country Director Ater Akol Thiep is currently in Kampala, Uganda, buying pumps, pipes, and other supplies needed for new wells. Those materials will then be loaded on to trucks to be driven north to Wau, South Sudan. The current plan has the drilling team heading into the field by the end of November. The drilling team also has its own hygiene education team which help villages determine hygiene practices in need of improvement and then delivers village-specific training to help expand the impact of clean water.

The season will start with our older rig, the DR-150, as we await shipment of our new PAT drilling rigs, on their way from Thailand.

“We are very excited to have our new rigs delivered,” said Thiep. “A lot of hard work has gone into the research and planning for this. We look forward to our new and improved drilling rigs to help us drill even faster.”

Stay tuned for more news and updates from WFSS as the 2018-19 season continues. Thank you for your support!


Notes from South Sudan: Traveling to the Field

 Jerry cans at WFSS well in Aweil.

Jerry cans at WFSS well in Aweil.

Leaving the WFSS compound in Wau, and its relative comforts, we embarked on a journey to witness the work that our founder Salva Dut started 15 years ago, work that inspires our supporters across the US and around the world.

After a four and a half-hour ride on uneven, rough and rutted roads, never traveling more than 40 mph, we arrived at our campsite in Aweil State. The drilling team had chosen a site under a large tree, not far from a new WFSS well so that the cooks would have access to fresh water as the drilling and hygiene teams were working.

There were long lines of jerry cans at the newly installed well, and we met women whose lives have been changed by closer access to fresh water. There were many smiles among those waiting to fill their cans. One woman shared, “We used to go to another well, far away. It used to be hard to cook and wash. Now, with a well, it is easy—we just bring a can and fill it up. It’s so great. With dirt it is hard to take a bath. Now the children are so clean. The well is helping them so much.”

 New well sponsored by University of Notre Dame class of 1984.

New well sponsored by University of Notre Dame class of 1984.

We were thrilled to travel the short distance from our campsite to the drilling site. We watched as villagers young and old gathered around to observe the transformation of their village. We watched the noisy work of our drilling rig and compressor as the teams installed pipes and blew out the dirt and dirty water that is the by-product of drilling.

Field work is hard and dirty work. The heat was often overwhelming for us. But no one complains. Villagers gathered each day to watch. We continued with our administrative “meetings under the trees” as the well was constructed, trying to make the most of our time.

 Board President Glenn Balch with village deputy chief.

Board President Glenn Balch with village deputy chief.

I had an extra interest in this well as I was personally involved in the fundraising that sponsored it. My University of Notre Dame class raised enough money to have our name inscribed on the well. My heart was full to overflowing as I watched the WFSS complete their work, and then was able to stand with the villagers beside their new well.  I was overjoyed to stand in the photos with our banner, and the villagers who will use the well.

The deputy village chief, Tong Yel, was also overjoyed. He told us over and over that we would be blessed for bringing this well. “We appreciate those who helped us get clean water. Our children will have a better life. I wish generations to come would see you. The community would not have enough to purchase a well. We wish they had more to show their appreciation. God be with you and bless you.”

Leaving the field, we knew that lives would be changed, and we were changed as well, but the need continues. There are still many villages waiting for wells. Our team works with local leaders to determine well placement, but we cannot provide a well to every village. Our team must often share the hard news that we cannot provide a well this season. But this season we know that 49 villages did receive new wells, as WFSS helped to water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Being there to witness the watering was nothing short of spectacular.

More Access to Clean Water, Sanitation & Hygiene!

The 2018 season is nearing its close as the rainy season has begun in South Sudan. Our drilling, rehab and hygiene teams are still able to drill and repair wells as they make their way back to our Operations Center in Wau.

 Villagers in Wut-Nyap Village in Aweil East celebrate their new well.

Villagers in Wut-Nyap Village in Aweil East celebrate their new well.

As of May 15, 36 new wells have been drilled, and the team is still aiming for their goal of 44 new wells. Our rehab team has been able to repair 21 of our older wells, and is on pace to repair 25.

Both drilling and rehab teams are accompanied by their own hygiene team. So far this season, 57 villages have received hygiene training.

This season we also introduced a pilot sanitation project at Zogolona School in Wau. We look forward to sharing photos and stories from the students and school community, and hearing about the impact of this exciting development. We will also provide hygiene education to the school, which includes training on maintaining the new latrines.

The work never stops at WFSS: even as the season is winding down our Leadership Council in South Sudan is planning for the 2018-19 season by arranging for training, special projects, and maintenance.

 Happy students from zogolona primary school

Happy students from zogolona primary school

 Students at Zogolona Primary School in Wau, site of a new WFSS well and new latrines being constructed.

Students at Zogolona Primary School in Wau, site of a new WFSS well and new latrines being constructed.

WFSS Celebrates World Toilet Day in Wau

 wau residents participate in activities marking world toilet day.

wau residents participate in activities marking world toilet day.

64% of people in the world live without toilets.

In 2013, the United Nation’s Assembly declared November 19th as World Toilet Day to bring awareness to the importance of having a toilet. Today 4.5 billion people live without sanitation facilities in their households – more people in the world have cell phones than toilets.

Sanitation is a public health issue. According to the charity Wherever the Need, poor sanitation kills more people than HIV and AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Poor sanitation leads to diarrhea. In 2015 there were 508,9541 known deaths across the globe from diarrhea of children under five. South Sudan ranks number 34 worldwide in deaths of children under five from diarrhea, with 3,243 in 2015. Sanitation is the single most cost-effective public health intervention to reduce child mortality2.

Sanitation also contributes to social injustice and poverty. When schools do not have sanitation facilities children, especially girls, often stay out of school-- either from illness, or in the case of girls, menstruation. There is a 15 percent increase in girls’ attendance rate once a toilet is introduced in a school.3 Women can’t work when they are forced to walk for water. Farmers and wage earners are less productive when they are not healthy due to poor sanitation. The World Health Organization states that there is $9 in economic benefit for every $1 spent on sanitation.

 teaching children about sanitation practices in wau.

teaching children about sanitation practices in wau.

 teaching children can help lead to greater behavior change in developing countries.

teaching children can help lead to greater behavior change in developing countries.

WFSS joined the world in celebrating World Toilet Day on November 19th. WFSS Compound Manager Abraham Majur Laam participated in a live radio talk show sponsored by WFSS. The panel also included the Directorate of Public Utilities and a representative from OXFAM GB. The show was interactive with listeners asking questions and sharing concerns about sanitation. Topics ranged from the construction of pit latrines to washing hands after toilet use to sustainability of facilities.

Other WFSS staff members helped to educate internally displaced persons at the Hai Masna camp in Wau. In addition to WFSS, there were delegates from Christians for Action, Relief, and Development; OXFAM GB; South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission; Directorate of Public Utilities; and Norwegian Refugee Council. Educational dramas were used to demonstrate how to build a pit latrine using locally available materials and how to use a latrine. Songs carrying messages about hygiene and sanitation were sung and soaps were distributed.

To date, WFSS has drilled 304 wells in remote villages in South Sudan. Since 2014, WFSS has provided hygiene training to 1,584 people in 198 villages, who then train the rest of their communities in best hygiene practices, impacting over 100,000 people to date. WFSS is currently exploring an opportunity to build latrines in a school in South Sudan. 

 

1.        www.UNwater.org

2.       World Bank 2006

3.       Wherever the Need

WFSS Plans for Drilling, Rehab, Hygiene and Sanitation Projects in 2018

WFSS finished the 2016-17 season with a new total of 304 wells drilled since 2005. Planning for the next season began soon after. Starting with a review of the successes and challenges of the past season, our South Sudan Leadership Council, with support from the Rochester-based Operations Committee, began developing their plan for the upcoming season.

The team assessed and repaired vehicles and equipment as needed; they then prepared supply lists for all that is needed to drill new wells, rehabilitate older wells and provide hygiene education. Our Country Director Ater Akol Thiep is currently in Kampala, Uganda, purchasing pumps, pipes, casings and cement, and all the other supplies that we are unable to source in South Sudan. This is just one of the challenges we face, operating in the newest country in the world.

The WFSS team is in the final stages of preparation for the 2018 season, with plans to drill up to 40 new wells, rehabilitate up to 50 older wells, and bring hygiene education training to every village we visit.

Sanitation Project Plans

In addition, our team in South Sudan has been researching effective and sustainable sanitation solutions for South Sudan, with plans to install a pilot latrine project in a school. While the need for clean water often takes center stage, the lack of proper sanitation facilities in South Sudan is also a severe problem.

The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals include Goal #6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all. As UN Water reports, the benefits of having access to an improved drinking water source can only be fully realized when there is also access to improved sanitation and adherence to good hygiene practices. Beyond the immediate, obvious advantages of people being hydrated and healthier, access to water, sanitation and hygiene – known collectively as WASH – has profound wider socio-economic impacts, particularly for women and girls.

WFSS is looking to engage in this sector, and is working with local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in South Sudan to understand the problem and implement workable solutions.

Thank you to our friends and supporters across the US and around the world, who enable our work. We could not do it without you, and we are deeply grateful for your support.

Work Continues in South Sudan- 6 New Wells & 6 Rehabbed Wells

 WFSS drilling team with first well of 2017.

WFSS drilling team with first well of 2017.

The WFSS teams are continuing their work in South Sudan, bringing access to clean water and hygiene education to those in need.

As of February 28, the WFSS Drilling Team had completed five new wells, and was finishing the sixth. This year the drilling team is focusing on drilling wells in school areas.

The WFSS Rehab Team, a new pilot program this year, has completed the rehabilitation of five of our oldest wells. Our 2015 well evaluation project showed us that some of the oldest wells needed to have the cement platforms surrounding the wells repaired. The new rehab team has set out to repair these wells to our newer design specifications. WFSS is now using a stronger cement mixture for all well platforms, and has also lengthened the channel leading from the pumps down to the drinking pools for animals.

This year we have two hygiene education teams in the field, traveling with both drilling and rehab teams, where they work with villagers to identify hygiene practices in need of improvement.

Although the news out of South Sudan continues to show the struggles of the new nation, with famine declared in two counties in Unity State, WFSS has been able to continue our operations. We are in regular contact with our teams who report that they are safe, and able to travel and continue regular operations.

Thank you to all of our supporters around the world who enable our work. 

We will continue to update you on the progress of this season. Please check back here for regular updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sign up for the WFSS email news here.

 

WFSS Team Preparing for 2016-17 Season

The Water for South Sudan team is busy preparing for the upcoming season, our 13th!!

Our Leadership Council, led by Country Director Ater Akol Thiep ("Lion"), and Ajang Agok (AJ), have been working with our US based Director of Operations to secure all the supplies needed for drilling, rehabilitation and hygiene education. We anticipate starting the season in late December or early January.

The drilling team, led this year by AJ, plans to drill up to 40 new wells. Plans include up to five additional wells for our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP) with Aqua-Africa. This joint project has already drilled 12 new wells in different tribal areas.  We are also working with Aqua-Africa to develop an additional component of peace and reconciliation talks for the villages in which we drill. Some of these wells could be in repatriation areas, where people of different tribal backgrounds are returning home, after having fled for safety. The installation of a well can serve as a starting point for conversations to help air grievances and resolve disputes, leading to greater peace and stability.

Lion will lead our well rehabilitation team as they work on repairing and strengthening the cement platforms of up to 20 new wells, in response to the findings of our 2015 well evaluation survey. The improved well design is now being implemented on all new wells too.

Mathew Akuar, WFSS Hygiene Team Manager, is preparing for two hygiene teams this year-- one to travel with the drilling team, and one to travel with the rehab team. Hygiene education is a vital piece of our work, and ensures that clean water stays clean, and that the impact of fresh water goes as far as possible.

In addition, WFSS is in the early stages of researching a pilot sanitation project, to provide latrines in a school. Sanitation is a vital piece of WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) work, and helps improve lives in so many ways.

WFSS thanks all of our supporters for enabling our work as we water the seeds of change in South Sudan. Please check back here for updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for email updates

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.

Clean Water for a Happy Mother's Day

 Women walking for water in south sudan

Women walking for water in south sudan

Cards, chocolates and flowers will be given to many women this Sunday. As preparations are made to honor moms on Mother's Day, May 8, the need for many women in the developing world is starkly different. Women need clean water to keep themselves and their children safe, healthy and alive.

The health of women and children, particularly pregnant women and young children, is often directly linked to the access of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Without clean water, women and children can be more prone to infection. Without access to water or proper hygiene and sanitation (toilets) women and children are more vulnerable to experiencing violence as they must travel farther to collect water or relieve themselves. Without access to clean water, the hope of an education is gone, as often times, the task of collecting water falls to girls. When girls spend their days walking for water, as they often do in South Sudan, there is no time to attend school.

Read more about the need for complete WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) programs to ensure maternal health: No Maternal Health Without Clean Water by Katie Millar, MPH, RN, Technical Writer and Publication Coordinator, Maternal Health Task Force, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene would be our wish to help every mother have a Happy Mother's Day.

To give the gift of clean water to women and children, in honor of a mother in your life, please visit our donate page.

World Water Day: The Impact of Clean Water

 

Go #Blue4Water on Tuesday, March 22!

Are you ready for World Water Day? World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22 and has been recognized internationally since 1993. The United Nations dedicated this day to raise awareness about global water-related issues and to spread conversation and activism about how we as a global community can meet water-related needs. 

World Water Day’s significance is reflected in the fact that 650 million people in the world do not have access to safe water-- roughly one in ten of the world’s population. Water stress affects nutrition, public health, environmental services, housing and urban growth, and national security.

Every day is World Water Day at WFSS as we drill clean-water wells and provide access to hygiene education in South Sudan. WFSS has now drilled 275 borehole wells in South Sudan since 2005, and has provided hygiene education in every village that gets a well since 2014.

Each year the UN sets a particular theme for World Water Day. This year’s theme is Water and Jobs. WFSS helps create jobs by teaching South Sudanese and other Africans the skills to drill wells and work in operations. WFSS also helps girls reach their future career goals. When girls have nearby access to water they no longer have to walk up to eight hours a day for water, and can possibly go to school and obtain an education. Education can be the pathway for girls to a new future, and possible careers as doctors, lawyers, or teachers.

World Water Day is an important opportunity to pause and think about how to help others who do not have clean water. Join WFSS as we go #Blue4Water. Follow us on social media and let us know why water is important to you!

WFSS will celebrate World Water Day in Rochester, NY on Tuesday, March 22nd at Downtown United Presbyterian Church at 10:30 A.M. with a special event and announcement.

Information and RSVP at wfss.eventbrite.com. We look forward to seeing you there!

Drilling Continues

The WFSS Drilling Team is continuing with this season's plan  to drill wells in two steps as we finalize new design plans and materials for the well platforms. Our drilling team has been working hard on the first step, drilling boreholes and inserting and capping pipes. Our well platform team will then seal and finish the wells and well platforms.

As of March 9, 2016, the drilling team has completed 14 boreholes this season and is working on #15. The WFSS Hygiene Team has traveled with them, providing hygiene training in every village in which we have drilled. Both teams will head back to our compound in Wau when they finish borehole #15. This was our pre-determined mark to stop drilling until supplies arrive for our platform finishing team. Once all supplies are in hand our two teams, drilling and platform, will work on sealing and finishing the 15 wells. If time and conditions allow, they will then continue to drill and finish additional wells until the rainy season begins. 

WFSS is working to increase the efficiency and sustainability of our wells, in response to information found in our 2015 well evaluation survey. We are pleased to report that our wells are all working and producing clean water, and we look forward to even higher quality as we work to help transform lives in South Sudan.

In other news, look for a special announcement from Salva and WFSS on World Water Day, Tuesday March 22!

 

 

WFSS Hygiene Team Expands Impact of Clean Water

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) started its Hygiene Education program in January 2014. This program was developed to help villagers who receive a WFSS well get the most out of having access to clean water.

The WFSS Hygiene Education Team teaches villagers about bacteria and disease and describes how bad hygiene practices, including open defecation and not washing hands with clean water, spreads diseases such as diarrhea. Diarrhea is responsible for four percent of the world’s deaths and causes about 801,000 annual deaths of children under the age of five, or 2,200 deaths each day. WFSS, through our hygiene education program, plays a vital role in teaching good hygiene practices. With access to clean water, villagers can utilize hand-washing to prevent the spread of diarrheal diseases.

 

The WFSS Hygiene Education program uses the Participatory Hygiene Transformation Method (PHAST). PHAST empowers villagers to come together to identify poor hygiene practices and create practical solutions to correct them. The WFSS Hygiene Education Team does not take on full leadership, but rather facilitates discussion regarding hygiene problems and their solutions. PHAST implements seven steps to achieve this: problem identification, problem analysis, planning for solutions, selecting options, planning for new facilities and behavior change, planning for monitoring and evaluation, and participatory evaluation. By using different methods of hygiene education/practice evaluation while following these steps (such as community stories, community mapping, pile sorting, and constructing F-diagrams of diarrheal transmission routes), WFSS enables those using our clean-water wells to improve and sustain the quality of their lives. In each village where we drill a well, our hygiene program teaches eight people (four men and four women) the best hygiene practices and trains them to then teach their fellow villagers, thus extending the impact of clean water even further.

To learn more about how you can help WFSS improve health in South Sudanese villages, please visit our Take Action page.