WFSS Teams Start 2019 Season

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Season Update

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) is pleased to announce that the 2019 season is off to a great start.

The rehab team, formed in 2017, got an early start in October, and as of Jan. 24 had rehabbed 31 older wells.

“We are very pleased with the rehab team,” notes Ater Akol “Lion” Thiep, WFSS Country Director. “The team is able to visit the older wells and assess what is needed. In addition, we are able to gather information on the use of the well over a number of years.”

Many of the older wells experience erosion on the cement platforms around the wells, and the cement drainage channels that lead to animal drinking troughs. WFSS’s improved process and design will keep these wells functional for years to come.

The drilling team started in January and has drilled five new wells as of Jan. 24. They are working in Tonj State in remote areas with limited access to gravel, and local water for drilling.

Separate hygiene education teams travel with both the drilling and rehab teams, delivering an improved curriculum on hygiene.

 

New Drilling Rigs

WFSS completed its capital campaign in 2017, with a major portion of the $1.2 million raised earmarked for a new drilling rig. Thanks to our working with PAT Rigs in Thailand, WFSS was able to purchase two rigs, the first of which arrived at our compound in Wau in January.  The 431T is a trailered rig which will be used as a back-up rig, for training, and as a complement to our larger rigs.

The new “Iron Giraffe” rig –the PAT 501, will become our main drilling rig and replace the current “Iron Giraffe” which we have had since 2008. The rig arrived on February 4. The team enthusiastically greeted the arrival

“The new rigs are a great addition for WFSS,” says Country Director Ajang “AJ” Agok. “The old rig had started breaking down. We now know we will have a reliable rig for many years to come.”

US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok, Lion and two team members traveled to Thailand in the fall to get hands-on training with the new rig, further cementing our relationship with the drilling rig manufacturer.

“We are very pleased with this purchase and, just as importantly, with the relationship with PAT,” said Prok. “Their support, and knowledge of drilling in the third world in general, and specifically South Sudan, will only help us further improve our procedures and outcomes.”

 

South Sudan News

WFSS keeps a close eye on developments in South Sudan, and our team on the ground serves an important role in keeping all informed. News out of South Sudan has been cautiously optimistic in recent months, with a general sense that the peace agreement signed in September, 2018, is holding. News of note includes reports that South Sudan oil fields are once again producing oil.

News of note:

South Sudan Resumes Oil Production in Former Unity State

South Sudan starts repairs, pumping oil from wells damaged in the civil war: minister

Young athletes come together in peace on National Unity Day in South Sudan

WFSS Team Visits Drill Rig Manufacturer as "Iron Giraffe" is Built

WFSS sent an operations team to Bangkok in September to visit the factory where our new drilling rig, aka our “Iron Giraffe,” is being built.

Country Director Ater Akol Thiep, US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok, Assistant Driller David Tombe Pitia and Akoon Kuol Mawien, Mechanic in Training, visited the factory and headquarters of PAT Drilling in Bangkok, Thailand. The team was very pleased with all that they saw and learned and emphasized the value of the on-going relationship with a vendor that has extensive experience in drilling in general, and also with drilling in South Sudan.

The team met with PAT engineers and toured the manufacturing facility. They received additional hands-on training with various aspects of drilling, including use of compressor, mud pump assembly and hammer drilling. They also went to the field with the same model rig we are buying to see the rig in action and did were able to drill in the field as well.

“As a result of this visit the WFSS team will be implementing some process changes in our efforts to be continuously improving all that we do,” said WFSS Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok. “Purchasing this new rig will help us improve the work we are doing in South Sudan, and support our goals of continuous improvement in South Sudan.”

The team looks forward to taking possession of the new rig in Wau, South Sudan, by the end of November, in time for the 2018-19 season.

WFSS thanks all of our sponsors, including the hundreds of schools, and thousands of students, who helped raise funds for our “Iron Giraffe” through the WFSS Iron Giraffe Challenge.

 

Our New "Iron Giraffe": WFSS Finalizes Drilling Rig Purchase

Funding a new “Iron Giraffe” to replace our tired drilling rig was at the forefront of WFSS’s Watering the Seeds of Change Capital Campaign, which raised $1.2 million for the drilling rig and other needed vehicles and drilling equipment and for technical training for our staff in South Sudan. The estimated cost of the drilling rig was $500,000. Through the Iron Giraffe Challenge, students across the world raised $511,166 for the new drilling rig – an astounding 42 percent of all campaign funds.

With the funding secured, WFSS’s operations team began their due diligence to find the drilling rig best suited to our needs at the best cost. The team worked tirelessly – working with our drilling team to pinpoint what is needed in a new rig, attending conferences to learn about the latest technology, and talking with drilling rig manufacturers about specs. PAT-drill was ultimately chosen as the vendor.

Meet our new “Iron Giraffe” – the PAT-drill 501.

Meet our new “Iron Giraffe” – the PAT-drill 501.

Promotion of appropriate technology (PAT) is PAT-drill’s mission. They were very knowledgeable about the environment and conditions in South Sudan and were able to offer great advice on what is working best for their other clients drilling in South Sudan. PAT-drill designs and builds their rigs in Bankok, Thailand. They have a sales and service office in South Sudan where our team will have access to technical support. PAT-drill keeps their equipment lightweight – making it cheaper to buy, easier to transport, and less costly to operate.

As a result of the operations team’s rigorous process of identifying and choosing a vendor we came in way under the anticipated $500,000 budget. We are actually purchasing two drilling rigs at a cost of just under $400,000! We have ordered a large rig mounted on a truck, our new “Iron Giraffe,” and a smaller rig mounted on a trailer. The small rig will be used as back up for the large rig and for training our staff–The additional money raised for the rig will purchase vehicles needed for our new rehabilitation team, launched in 2017.

Salva, the Board of Directors, and our teams in the U.S. and South Sudan are grateful to everyone who contributed to the capital campaign, especially all of the teachers and students who worked so hard to help us to fund a new “Iron Giraffe.” You are making a difference to people in isolated villages who without a well would not have safe water.

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.

Season Winding Down as Rainy Season Approaches

community members in Mabil village in aweil east state celebrate a new well

community members in Mabil village in aweil east state celebrate a new well

The WFSS teams have had a successful season, and are now beginning to wind down as the rainy season approaches.

To date, the drilling team has drilled 36 new wells, and is on target to hit its goal of 44 new wells. The rehabilitation team has repaired 19 of our older wells, and is also on target, planning to repair 25 older wells. Our two hygiene teams have traveled with the drilling and rehab teams, helping communities improve hygiene practices. 

All of the teams are making their way back to our Operations Center in Wau, and will be able to continue their work as they travel. As the rainy season begins, the roads we use will soon become impassable.

We are looking forward to sharing updates on our almost-completed school sanitation project in Wau, where we are installing latrines at the Zogolona Primary School.

Thanks to our supporters around the world for supporting our work and helping to improve the lives of those we serve as we help to develop communities in South Sudan.

March News - 25 New Wells Drilled, Sanitation Construction Continues

While snow falls in many parts of the US, the temperatures in South Sudan are well over 100 degrees. Our team continues their work, persevering and conquering challenges as we work to transform lives in South Sudan.

VILLAGERS IN Lueth-agok VILLAGE IN AWEIL EAST STATE CELEBRATE THEIR NEW WELl sponsored by king philip middle school in connecticut.

VILLAGERS IN Lueth-agok VILLAGE IN AWEIL EAST STATE CELEBRATE THEIR NEW WELl sponsored by king philip middle school in connecticut.

SOUTH SUDAN UPDATE
Our drilling and rehab teams have been working together to speed up the drilling process for the first part of the season, and have completed 25 wells as of March 14. The drilling team prepares and drills the wells, and is then able to move on to the next village. Meanwhile, the rehab team finishes the newly drilled well by installing the concrete platform. The rehab team will go off on their own in April to work on rehabilitating older wells in need of platform repair.

Our two hygiene teams travel along, one with the drilling team, and one with the rehab team, to deliver hygiene education in every village we visit.

This season, our Country Director, Ater Akol "Lion" Thiep will conduct the 2018 Monitoring and Evaluation of older wells this month, visiting 20 older wells to evaluate and report on their status.

PILOT SANITATION PROJECT
Water for South Sudan has been operating in the WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) sector for many years, focusing on water (new wells) since 2005, and hygiene education since 2014. This season, we have fully entered the WASH sector with our first pilot sanitation project.

STUDENTS AT ZAGALONA PRIMARY SCHOOL, SITE OF WFSS'S PILOT SANITATION PROJECT, ENJOY FRESH WATER FROM THEIR NEW WELL, THE FIRST DRILLED IN THE 2017-18 SEASON.

STUDENTS AT ZAGALONA PRIMARY SCHOOL, SITE OF WFSS'S PILOT SANITATION PROJECT, ENJOY FRESH WATER FROM THEIR NEW WELL, THE FIRST DRILLED IN THE 2017-18 SEASON.

 

The project broke ground in January, at an elementary school near our compound in Wau. Progress continues, managed by WFSS Associate Country Director AJ Agok, in consultation with our US team in Rochester. The school and community celebrated the groundbreaking, and look forward to use of the new latrine this spring.

We look forward to bringing you more news and photos of this project as it continues.

THANK YOU!
Water for South Sudan is now supported by donors in all 50 US states, and 49 other countries, with Finland joining the fold this month. Thank you to all who support our work to strengthen families, communities, and the young nation of South Sudan.

Follow us on social media as we celebrate World Water Day on March 22. Truly, every day is World Water Day at WFSS.

More new wells as season continues

Our 9th well drilled this season, sponsored by King philip middle school. this is our 313th well overall!

Our 9th well drilled this season, sponsored by King philip middle school. this is our 313th well overall!

The 2018 season continues with 20 new wells drilled. Each village has also received hygiene training with its new well.

Progress continues on the sanitation project and we look forward to sharing updates.

Thanks to all of our supporters who enable our work!

Look for updates on World Water Day and other upcoming events in 2018.

12 New Wells Already Completed This Season

the first well of the 2017-18 season was drilled for the zagalona primary school in wau, site of wfss's pilot sanitation project.

the first well of the 2017-18 season was drilled for the zagalona primary school in wau, site of wfss's pilot sanitation project.

The WFSS season began in December, and teams are now in Aweil drilling new wells and providing hygiene education. Our teams are safe and able to continue our work, helping to transform lives in South Sudan.

As of January 30, 12 new wells have been drilled, and we have also broken ground on our pilot sanitation project, building latrines in a school. Read more about this season's progress here.

 

 

Drilling Season Update

Breaking ground for a new latrine pilot at the Zagalona Primary School.

Breaking ground for a new latrine pilot at the Zagalona Primary School.

WFSS is pleased to announce the 2017-18 season has begun! Drilling has started and ground has been broken for the pilot sanitation project.

The drilling team is currently in the Aweil area, drilling and installing new wells. As of January 26, 10 new wells have been drilled.

We face challenges in all facets of this work. We've experienced some equipment challenges recently, and our team is hard at work addressing them. The drilling rig had a minor breakdown that was quickly repaired. Our compressors have also broken down. This has not stopped our work, and as the our team works on repairs, they are also exploring renting an additional compressor to complete the installation of new wells.

The WFSS rehab team, launched in 2017, is currently traveling with the drilling team to speed up the process of installing new wells. The rehab team plans to split off in February to begin its goal of rehabbing up to 50 of WFSS’s older wells, and the drilling team will resume total installation of the new wells.

Hygiene education is ongoing, with the WFSS hygiene teams continuing their “train the trainer” model of education in the villages. A hygiene team travels with both the drilling and rehab teams, so that WFSS can reach every village it visits to help improve hygiene practices.

Pilot Latrine Project in Wau

WFSS’s season officially began in December, with the construction of a well at the Zagalona Primary School near the WFSS Operations Center in Wau. This well was the first step in WFSS’s pilot sanitation project to install latrines in a school.  The Zagalona School serves approximately 800 students. Access to fresh water and latrines for students will help to increase health and attendance at the school.

AJ with the community around Zagalona Primary School.

AJ with the community around Zagalona Primary School.

Ground breaking for the project began on January 3, with many in attendance, including representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure (Public Utility), the Parents and Teachers Association, the village chief, and the steering committee, head teachers and board of directors from the school, along with WFSS Associate Country Director AJ Agok and WFSS Sanitation Manager Rudolf Nyiyuo Kon.

AJ noted that the community members, government officials, and school representatives, including students, were “very happy, joyful, and grateful about the new latrine and well.”

“We received great speeches from various government representatives. The Ministry of Education urged the rest of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to work like Water for South Sudan. She also said that the education system would be highly improved if all the NGOs were operating like Water for South Sudan,” AJ remarked.

The representative from the school’s Parents and Teachers Association said they will remain supportive and collaborate with the school management to sustain the latrines. AJ noted WFSS was very glad to hear parents talk about sustainability.

The first well of the season at Zagalona Primary School.

The first well of the season at Zagalona Primary School.

The village chief thanked WFSS and said he will never forget what WFSS has done for the school children to keep them healthy with hygiene and sanitation, and will fully support school management on sustainability of the latrines and well. “Thanks to WFSS and the donors who raised the money for Zagalona Primary school. We will sustain it,” said the chief. 

The head teacher was also very thankful and said he couldn’t wait to use the latrine first to set an example for everyone on how to use the latrine.  

“My students will no longer be late for classes since they have drinking water nearby. They will no longer go to the bush and squat there because there is a latrine now. If it wasn’t for Water for South Sudan they would not be able to achieve,” said head teacher Daniel Ajiek Madut.

WFSS Planning for 2017-18 Season, Driven by Local Leadership

WFSS managers and team members at start of 2016-17 season.

WFSS managers and team members at start of 2016-17 season.

The Water for South Sudan teams in South Sudan are busy planning for the upcoming 2017-18 season, set to start in November. We are pleased to be working with our local leadership team, led by Country Director Ater Akol Thiep and Associate Country Director Ajang Agok, who also chair our Leadership Council in South Sudan, comprised of our team managers. WFSS Founder Salva Dut also serves as Senior Advisor to both the Leadership Council, as well as our Board and staff in the US.

Plans this year include drilling up to 40 new wells, rehabilitating 40-50 older wells, providing hygiene education in every village we visit, and working on a pilot sanitation project to build latrines for a school.

Our operations center in South Sudan is in Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan. Our teams are safe there, and report to our staff and board in Rochester, NY on a daily basis.

To read more about upcoming plans for 2017-18, please visit our news page here.

Local Leadership Drives our Team in South Sudan

WFSS Team at the start of the 2017 season

WFSS Team at the start of the 2017 season

Water for South Sudan (WFSS), established in 2003, has been working in South Sudan since 2005.  The safety and security of our team has been our number one priority since the beginning.

 

As of May, 2017 we have now drilled 304 wells, provided hygiene education to over 150,000 trainers, and have rehabilitated and repaired many wells-- our wells, and those drilled by others. This year we will pilot a school sanitation project. Our team is safe, secure, and planning for the future.

 

WFSS Led by Local Staff in South Sudan

Our team has been able to stay safe through our years of operation, and they remain safe today. Our US office is in constant contact with our South Sudan team, and receives daily security updates. Our team has many precautions in place to ensure their safety, as well as appropriate contingency and evacuation plans should they ever be needed.

One reason for our continued success, and ability to stay engaged, is our on-the-ground leadership team, started by our Founder, Salva Dut, and now continued by our Country Directors, Ater Thiep and Ajang Agok. They, along with our management team, support staff and seasonal employees are all South Sudanese. Our in-country team is able to connect with local and national government offices, and also monitor security issues.  They understand the culture, language and lifestyle of the country well and are guardedly hopeful about ongoing peace dialogues in the country.

Team Members and Their Families Safe in Wau

wfss country director, and former "lost boy," ater akol thiep.

wfss country director, and former "lost boy," ater akol thiep.

Mathew Akuar Akuar, our Hygiene Manager and Assistant Drilling Manager reports that his family is in Wau, the second largest city in South Sudan, and home to our operations center. He notes, "My family feels safe in Wau. There is no fear and business people are running their work normally."

Country Director Ater Akol Thiep agrees. He notes that Wau is currently one of the safest area in South Sudan, given its strategic location, and that the national dialogue initiative between the government and rebels is being held in Wau, and "that is why my brothers, sisters, and cousins are staying here with me."

Thiep further explains, "WFSS donors need to understand that the WFSS team values their lives and equipment very much, and if the security situation is not good, it will be their responsibility to stop work and evacuate our staff and equipment immediately to safety.

"But now we really feel good about the situation in South Sudan in general and Wau area in particular. Now over twenty NGO's (non-governmental organizations) are still operating in Wau and none of them have asked for evaluation because they know that the situation here is normal. But we also know that there are some parts in the country which are not safe, and we will try to avoid those areas until we are sure of the safety."                                                                                 


Water, Sanitation, Hygiene is the First Step in Development

WFSS Founder Salva Dut

WFSS Founder Salva Dut

We remain hopeful that the young nation of South Sudan can grow and develop. Bringing access to fresh water, hygiene education and sanitation can be a huge first step. Once villages have a stable source of water they can look to next steps, which include establishing local markets, health clinics and schools. Education is vitally important if South Sudan is to grow and develop.

WFSS Founder Salva Dut explains, "The main key for a peaceful South Sudan is to educate the next generation.  Young people understand the meaning of the peace. Providing education helps to keep watering the elements to ensure our future. Keeping young people healthy by providing clean drinking water is the first step."

Hope for the future

Salva explains that he is still hopeful for the future of South Sudan, and, as a dual US-South Sudanese citizen, he reaches into his US history for reasons why.

"The United States went through many wars and Americans were still hopeful and didn't give up. They went through the Civil War, World War II, Vietnam and others, and America today has prosperity. The civil war of South Sudan will stop some day and the people there will be living in peace and happiness."

 

Planning for 2017-18 Season

Our team has spent the summer debriefing on the past season, and planning for the next one. Plans include drilling up to 40 new wells, rehabilitating 40-50 older wells, providing hygiene education training in every village we visit, and constructing a pilot sanitation project in a school. 

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WFSS Completes 2017 Season-- 304 Wells Drilled Since 2005

WFSS DRILLING TEAM COMPLETES THE FIRST WELL OF THE 2017 SEASON IN Lith Angui VILLAGE IN WAU STATE.

WFSS DRILLING TEAM COMPLETES THE FIRST WELL OF THE 2017 SEASON IN Lith Angui VILLAGE IN WAU STATE.

The WFSS team completed another successful season, overcoming numerous challenges, as is the norm when operating in South Sudan, the newest country in the world.

The team reached the amazing milestone of drilling the 300th well for the nonprofit. The final tally at the end of the season was a total of 304 wells drilled since 2005.

Our new rehabilitation team was launched this year, in response to our 2015 well evaluation survey which found a number of the oldest wells had erosion and breakages in the cement platforms and drainage channels around the well. The team set a goal to repair 20 of the oldest wells. Their work went so well, and progressed much more quickly than anticipated, and they were able to rehab 31 of the oldest wells.

Both teams used new procedures in drilling new wells and repairing older ones: using a stronger mixture of cement, regrading the platform around the well to encourage run-off away from the well, and constructing longer drainage channels away from the well.

As soon as the team finished the season, they brought the teams and equipment back to our compound in Wau and began the assessment process on the season, and reviewed all mechanical needs.

Read more about the 2017 season here.