WFSS Finishes Regular Season with 42 New Wells - 391 Wells Drilled since 2005!

Well sponsored by Concordia International at the Aduktik Primary School in Gogrial State, South Sudan.

Well sponsored by Concordia International at the Aduktik Primary School in Gogrial State, South Sudan.

As the rainy season brings our regular operations season to a close, we are pleased to report that WFSS went over goal and was able to drill 42 new wells! Thanks to the generosity of our donors around the world, 42 villages and schools are benefiting from life-saving healthy water.

Our other field team—the rehabilitation team—got an early start in the fall and also exceeded our initial goal, completing the repair and rehabilitation of 60 older wells originally drilled by WFSS.

Each field team is accompanied by a hygiene education team that helps villages improve hygiene practices. Access to clean water and hygiene education helps to reduce diarrheal and waterborne diseases, and helps villagers employ better hygiene practices personally, and in their homes.

Schools in particular benefit greatly from access to clean water and hygiene education.

Mary, a student at Aduktik Primary School in Gogrial State, noted that “Life was difficult [before the well] for pupils, who used to go far distances to fetch water. WFSS improved life in this school, and also provided hygiene promotion, which led to improvement of hygiene behavior.”

Villagers celebrate the rehabilitation of their well in Tonj State.

Villagers celebrate the rehabilitation of their well in Tonj State.

In addition, WFSS continued our collaboration with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa on our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP). This year, the organizations worked to drill four new wells, and provide hygiene and micro-democracy training. The UPDP is a joint effort led by members of two historically conflicted tribes—the Dinka and Nuer—coming together to provide access to clean water. The continued success of this collaboration inspires us all, and we look forward to developing future plans.

The WFSS team will launch a small “extended season” drilling project in June, with plans to drill at least eight wells in the Wau area, near the WFSS operations center.

Our Country Directors Lion and AJ will visit the US this summer to review the past season, meet with staff and board members in Rochester, NY, and plan for 2019-20 and beyond.

Thank you to all of our supporters who enable our work.

You truly are helping us to water the seeds of change 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.


2018 Season Continues - 16 Wells Completed

Well drilled at Zagalona School in Wau.

Well drilled at Zagalona School in Wau.

The 2018 season continues and our team reports that they have now drilled 16 wells. The first well was drilled at the Zagalona Primary School near Wau. The other 15 wells have been drilled in the Aweil area.

The WFSS Hygiene Education team has conducted hygiene education in all of the villages where they installed wells in Aweil. The Zagalona School is also the site of our pilot sanitation project, installing six latrines in the school.  A full hygiene and sanitation training will be conducted when that project is complete.

The team reports that they are on track to drill at least 40 wells this season and look forward to supplying more people with access to fresh water. The rehab team is currently traveling with the drilling team, completing the platforms on the new wells, to help reach the goal of 40 wells this season. The rehab team will split off later this season to work on repairing older WFSS wells.

WFSS is pleased to be celebrating our 15th year since our founding! Read more on our Celebrating 15 Years Blog.

WFSS Completes 2017 Season-- 304 Wells Drilled Since 2005



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.

2017 Season Concludes, 304 Wells Drilled Since 2005

Water for South Sudan successfully completed its 13th season this May. The organization also celebrated reaching the milestone of having drilled over 300 new wells since drilling began in 2005. Overall operations have now grown to include a new rehab team, and two hygiene teams. All worked together to continue transforming lives in South Sudan, by bringing access to clean water and providing hygiene education.

The 2017 season progressed in large measure thanks to the dedication and creativity of our South Sudan team, led by Country Director Ater Akol "Lion" Thiep and Assistant Country Director Ajang "AJ" Abraham Agok. WFSS Founder Salva Dut serves as Senior Advisor, assisting both the South Sudan team, and the US staff and WFSS Board of Directors.

While the base of our operations continues to be drilling wells, we are pleased to report that our new rehab team, led by Lion, far exceeded the goals we set this year. The team planned to repair 20 of our oldest wells in 2017; they succeeded in repairing 31. The rehab team was launched in response to the 2015 well evaluation survey which showed that a number of our oldest wells were in need of repair. While all wells were found to be working and producing clean water, the cement platforms and drainage channels showed serious signs of erosion.

Our US Operations Team worked with our South Sudan team to address these challenges. They determined that we needed to use a stronger cement, and also further improved the design of the well platform and channel to promote drainage of water away from the well. In addition, they implemented procedures to build fencing around the well to discourage traffic by people and animals over the platforms and drainage channels.

“We took a big step back and looked at everything we were doing,” said US Director of Operations Don Fairman. “We were able to greatly improve the strength of the concrete, and looking at the entire well design led to improvements that will add to the long-term sustainability of the wells.”

The design improvements were used in both new and rehabilitated wells this year, and reaction was swift and positive. Villagers were pleased to have their water sources improved so dramatically, and other NGOs also noted the improvement in the design.

The rehab team heard many stories of improved life in villages that have been using WFSS wells.

WFSS drilled a well in Alabek County, Tonj State in 2007. When the rehab team arrived to repair one of the wells this year, they talked to a local woman named Yar about many of the improvements that she had seen in the years since. Yar noted that many diseases like Guinea worm, diarrhea, and typhoid have been reduced due to the presence of clean water in the area. She also noticed positive change in village life. Before the well was drilled, only four students attended school. Now the number has increased to 26, including nine girls. Yar further noted that improvements went beyond people: the life of domestic animals also changed positively, as there are more animals and they also have improved access to water. 




In 2014 we launched our first hygiene education team, led by Mathew Akuar Akuar, a local South Sudanese. Mathew has overseen hygiene education, improving the content and delivery in each successive season. This year we launched a second hygiene team which traveled with our rehab team. Now villages that received wells over 10 years ago are also benefiting from improved hygiene practices.

The hygiene education program emphasizes community participation and equips villagers to identify hygiene practices in need of improvement. The team trains eight people in each village, four men and four women. Each of these trainees can then train others, thereby expanding the impact and safe usage of clean water.


In 2014 WFSS began collaborating with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa on the United Peace and Development Project (UPDP). WFSS drilled two more wells for the UPDP this year, bringing the total number of wells drilled for the project to 14. The two organizations originally came together to find ways to bridge divides in South Sudan. WFSS Founder Salva Dut is from the Dinka tribe, while Aqua-Africa Founder Buey Ray Tut is from the Nuer tribe. While these two tribes have a long history of conflict in South Sudan, Salva and Buey see themselves as South Sudanese first, and wanted to find a way to work together. They developed the UPDP to bring access to clean water to different tribal areas. Salva and Buey have demonstrated a deep respect for each other, and the value of working together.

“Our dream is to make South Sudan a better place for people to live,” says Buey. “We want to show people how we can all work together to achieve this dream,” adds Salva. On the practical level, the UPDP drills wells and provides clean water, but the real impact of the partnership is the ability to overcome historical conflict and inspire peaceful resolutions, and work together for a greater good.


After the season ended, the WFSS teams left the field and traveled back to our compound in Wau to begin assessing all vehicles and equipment. Salva, Lion and AJ will travel to the US for meetings with WFSS staff and board of directors in June. The timeline for the 2018 season will be developed and the logistical planning will begin.

“We have come a long way,” says Salva. “I am so grateful for the generosity of our supporters around the world.”                                                                                       

Thanks to all of our supporters who enable our work in South Sudan.

WFSS Drills 300th Well in South Sudan!

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.

well sponsored by employees of hmh, publishers of  a long walk to water.

well sponsored by employees of hmh, publishers of a long walk to water.

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.

an older well, before wfss rehab's work. see below for repaired well!

an older well, before wfss rehab's work. see below for repaired well!

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.

villagers celebrate repaired well, ensuring a future with access to fresh water

villagers celebrate repaired well, ensuring a future with access to fresh water

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.

More Fresh Water Flowing in South Sudan as 2017 Season Continues

the third well of the season was sponsored by lewis m. myers elementary school in bellwood, pa.

the third well of the season was sponsored by lewis m. myers elementary school in bellwood, pa.

The 2017 drilling season continues as WFSS helps bring access to fresh water and hygiene education in South Sudan.

The drilling team, led by Ajang "AJ" Agok, has now drilled eight wells. This year they are focusing on providing water for schools, with plans to drill up to 40 new wells.

Our rehab team, led by Ater "Lion" Thiep, has already repaired ten of our oldest wells. This pilot project was driven by our 2015 evaluation of wells which showed that older cement platforms were in need of repair. We have strengthened our cement mixing process and improved the design of the platform, and the channel that leads from the well head to the drinking pool for animals. They plan to repair up to 20 of our older wells, and then may be able to join the drilling team to help them reach their targeted number of wells.

Traveling alongside each of these teams is a hygiene education team which helps villagers improve hygiene practices. The WFSS teams train eight trainers (four men and four women) in each village who then can train others. The educators teach about how germs spread, how to keep water containers clean, and also help to identify hygiene behaviors in need of improvement, all of which help to expand the impact of clean water.

The 2017 got off to a later start than usual, but crews are working hard to make our goals for the season. The WFSS teams continue to monitor the situation in South Sudan, and are in constant contact with our board and staff in Rochester, New York. The team has assured us of their safety, and report that they are able to conduct operations without impediment.

WFSS team members in South Sudan are in contact with local NGOs in Wau, home of our operations center, and continue to explore ways in which we can work with other NGOs in the area. We will continue discussions and possibilities to be of help in refugee camps for IDPs (internally displaced persons) in the area.

The entire WFSS organization is committed to the future of South Sudan, and supports all efforts to resolve conflict and bring peace to this young country.

Photos from start of 2017 season

2017 Season Begins in South Sudan

WFSS managers and team members at the WFSS compound in Wau, ready to start the season.

WFSS managers and team members at the WFSS compound in Wau, ready to start the season.

The months of planning and preparation are finally behind us and the 2017 season has officially begun. The drilling team has drilled the first well of the season and our new well rehab team has repaired one of our oldest wells. 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.

WFSS drilling team members, and WFSS cooks- who keep all of our operations going.

WFSS drilling team members, and WFSS cooks- who keep all of our operations going.

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 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 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.

22 New Wells in 2016

WFSS is pleased to report that 22 new wells were drilled in 2016. Our team in South Sudan worked with US Operations to redesign and improve the platforms around the wells. Working on the design, plus supplier delays led us to a later start this year, but the team pushed on at the end of April, and into May to complete 20 new wells.

In addition, our partnership with Omaha-based Aqua-Africa continued with 2 additional wells being drilled for the United Peace and Development Project. These wells were drilled in Central Equatoria State, expanding the reach of both WFSS and the UPDP.

2016 Drilling Has Begun!

As of March 1, the WFSS Drilling Team has drilled 11 new boreholes, and also repaired 7 wells near the WFSS compound in Wau. Our Hygiene Team has also completed hygiene training in each village in which we have drilled.

Our teams have been working hard to review and improve our drilling processes, paying special attention to our process of sealing the wells, and installing the cement platforms around the wells, in response to findings from our 2015 well evaluation survey.

Read more about WFSS plans for 2016, including improved processes and greater sustainability, here.

WFSS Drilling Update

International Foundation well

The 2014-15 season has gotten off to a great start in South Sudan. As of February 3, the WFSS drilling team has completed 12 wells, on the way to a goal of 40 new wells.  Each new well will brings access to fresh clean water for up to 3,000 people. A nearby source of potable water can transform the lives of all who have access to it.

Drilling was able to start in December thanks to the tireless efforts of our team in South Sudan, with tremendous support from our operations team back in Rochester, NY. Routine maintenance and repairs were made to drilling equipment. The team was able to buy drilling supplies in Kampala, Uganda. Additional parts were sourced and shipped to South Sudan.



One of the wells drilled was in Aker Adoor, sponsored by Monroe Community College and Avon Middle School from Rochester, NY. Achan, a South Sudanese woman shared her thoughts on the new well with us.

“I came to the well today because I need the water to soften the reeds for my basket. I will sell it with another one tomorrow at the market. I get 25 South Sudanese pounds ($5.00 US dollars) per each basket.

“I used to walk two hours to a well in another village for my drinking water. I had to go three or four times a day with my daughter and I could not spend any time making baskets. My husband died seven years ago and so I must do all the work to take care of my children and my compound. 

"Now that there is water close by, I can spend half my days making baskets and my daughter can go to school to become educated. Later today we will come back to the well to wash our clothes and collect water for dinner.”

Clean water changes everything in South Sudan.