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

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!

WFSS Teams Carry on in Mission to Bring Access to Fresh Water

The WFSS Drilling Team, Rehab Team, and their two accompanying Hygiene Education Teams, are continuing their work for the 2017 season, bringing access to clean water in South Sudan. All WFSS teams are safe and able to do their work, and report that people are going about their daily business in the areas around our Operations Center in Wau.

As of April 24, WFSS has now drilled 18 new wells, for a new total of 300 wells drilled since 2005! Our pilot Rehab Team has repaired 26 of our oldest wells and replaced cracked and broken concrete platforms with a new and improved composition and design, leading to even greater sustainability.

Our Hygiene Education program has also continued, with two dedicated team now traveling with our drilling and rehab teams.

We are in frequent contact with our South Sudan team members, who in turn stay apprised of all developments in South Sudan through contact with government and security officials, and NGO and other non-profit organizations.

Water for South Sudan continues to advocate for peace and development through our work. Our United Peace and Development Project (UPDP) with Aqua-Africa continues, with plans for two additional wells to be drilled this season, to add to the 12 wells drilled previously.

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.


As 2016 Season Winds Down, WFSS Sees Improved Sustainability

The 2016 season is winding down as it appears that the rainy season is on the way. 16 villages received wells and hygiene education. 20 wells repaired.

Another well sponsored by our friends at the NYS Garden Clubs.

Another well sponsored by our friends at the NYS Garden Clubs.

Our team has drilled 16 wells so far and is currently working on finishing and sealing the wells. WFSS took the time this season to work on the design and sustainability of our wells and we are pleased to report that our new design is being implemented in all new wells.

The new well design grew out of the 2015 well evaluation survey, which revealed signs of erosion on the cement platforms. Our team spent the fall and early winter refining the design. That planning time, along with some supplier delays, led to a later start to our season. While the team waited to begin drilling they used that time to repair 20 local wells drilled by other organizations, helping to maintain access to clean water for those in need.

 “We know that we have a much better process now,” says US Operations Director and Board member Don Fairman. “Greater sustainability of our wells means that in the long run we’ll be able to help even more people as our wells last longer and have fewer breakdowns.”

Wfss hygiene team helps villagers improve hygiene practices.

Wfss hygiene team helps villagers improve hygiene practices.

The WFSS Hygiene Team traveled alongside the drilling team and provided hygiene education and training to every village which received a well. The hygiene team is also involved in our sustainability efforts, and will work to help educate villagers on the importance of maintaining the well and constructing fencing to protect it. Future WFSS evaluations will include how well villages continue their hygiene training and practices.

While we didn’t reach our usual number of wells drilled this season, the information we’ve learned, along with our improved well design, will have a significant impact on future wells, and wells which we’ll rehabilitate. As we continue to learn and improve, we’ll be sharing our knowledge with other water drilling operations as well as the South Sudanese Ministry which oversees water access and management.

new well installed in 2016

new well installed in 2016

As one drilling season ends, planning for the next one begins. WFSS will continue improving the technical sustainability of wells which also is key to protecting the aquifer which supplies them.  Our hygiene team will continue its work and we will look to develop a pilot sanitation project.

As we look ahead, our well redesign and retrofitting is in place.  We have unwavering attention on developing our South Sudanese team’s skills and talent. We’re seeking to expand our collaborations with other NGOs.  And the numbers of people who contribute time, money and skills to our now 12 year old organization continues to grow and amaze.

With all this momentum, our mission of partnering with the people of South Sudan to empower and transform their lives is stronger than ever. Thank you from Salva and our South Sudan and US leadership and staff for helping make that possible.

Plans Underway for 2015-16 Season

As the 2014-15 drilling season was winding down, WFSS Director of Operations and Board Member Don Fairman traveled from Rochester, New York to Wau, South Sudan to meet with our drilling team and staff. Don worked with both of our Field Operations Managers, Ater Akol Thiep, and Ajang “AJ” Abraham Agok. They worked to improve procedures and efficiencies in our Wau office. Then, when the drilling team returned to our operations center, Don and the team went over equipment and vehicle needs, looking at maintenance and repair needs, and planning for the next drilling season.

Findings from our well evaluation report show a need to improve the concrete platforms that surround each well. We will launch a new well rehabilitation team this season. Ater and AJ will start the drilling season together, drilling new wells using a new platform design, and an improved method for mixing concrete. Once they have mastered the new process and design, one of the managers will lead our newly formed well rehabilitation team, while the other will continue to lead the drilling team.

the united peace and development project will continue in 2015-16, with plans for at least two more wells.

the united peace and development project will continue in 2015-16, with plans for at least two more wells.

The goal of this new pilot project will be to re-do the concrete platforms of some of our oldest wells and those most in need of repair. 

While significant resources will go to the critically important work of platform rehabilitation, WFSS will make every effort to drill up to 40 new wells this coming season, and continue the work of the Hygiene Education Team. We will continue to educate villagers on maintaining wells and their surrounding areas, sharing improved practices we have developed over our 10 year history.



In 2015-16 WFSS plans to:

  • Drill up to 40 new wells, using a new concrete platform design

  • Launch a pilot well rehab team to rehabilitate 20 older wells, installing new concrete platforms and fencing

  • Conduct hygiene education with each new well drilled

  • Work with Aqua-Africa on the continuing United Peace & Development Project

  • Improve efficiencies in operations

  • Explore opportunities and collaborations in South Sudan

As more wells are drilled in South Sudan, the total number of people served by each well has begun to decrease. This is an important quality of life issue. Whereas some of the earliest wells might have served over 3,000 people, numbers served by new wells this past season averaged under 1,000 people per well.  As more people have access to fresh water wells, they also have access to more water, and can begin to use water for more uses, including gardening and farming. Our well evaluation survey showed us that gardens, and an additional source of fresh food, were one result of more clean water.

Our US administration team also plans to travel to South Sudan this coming year, to meet with government officials, and non-governmental organizations doing development and humanitarian work in South Sudan. We look forward to continued collaboration in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) sector, and expanding our impact.