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.

The Importance of Sanitation for All, Especially Children

After seeing the success of our hygiene education program, Water for South Sudan plans to launch a pilot sanitation program next year. Sanitation is defined as “the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces." Sanitation differs from hygiene in that it provides the means for people to be hygienic. Hygiene is the ability to participate in “conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of disease."  

The WFSS Hygiene Program has helped South Sudanese villagers learn the importance of maintaining good hygiene by changing behaviors such as hand-washing. Our hygiene team helps villages identify hygiene practices in need of improvement, and helps create a plan to move forward. We have seen how improved hygiene practices can help extend the impact of clean water. Now, it is time for WFSS to take the next step and develop sanitation programs for the people we serve.

Sanitation is important for all, helping to maintain health and increase life-spans. However, it is especially important for children. Around the world, over 800 children under age five die every day from preventable diarrhea-related diseases caused by lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene. In addition, diarrhea causes children to lose their appetites, which can lead to malnourishment. Limited access to sanitation has become such a worldwide problem that 1 in every 4 children suffer from stunted growth. This leads to “irreversible physical and cognitive damage."



Developing a sanitation program in South Sudan is the logical next step for WFSS and will enable us to fully move into the WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) sector, and will help build better health for those we serve.

Our plans for 2017 include a pilot sanitation project, most likely at a school. Improved sanitation can help maintain school attendance through latrine facilities like this one pictured below. This facility was constructed by UNICEF in Lohanosy, Madagascar, outside of the Lohanosy Primary School.

Sanitation is a vital piece of health and development around the world. The WFSS sanitation program will help address access to health and education in the world’s newest country.

Please join us in helping to bring access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation. To donate, please visit our donate page


WFSS in the News on World Water Day

Water for South Sudan's celebration of World Water Day, March 22, 2016 included news coverage in Rochester, NY and online in the Huffington Post and, as WFSS kicked off our Watering the Seeds of Change Capital Campaign. On March 22 WFSS had already raised $750,000 toward a goal of $1,500,000 to replace worn drilling equipment, bolster staff in the US and South Sudan, and develop a pilot sanitation project.

An article by Ryan Scott, Founder and CEO at Causecast, appeared on both the Huffington Post and In his article, On World Water Day, A Story To Make You Feel Good About The World, Scott talks about WFSS Founder Salva Dut and how New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park inspired the book's publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) to donate $15,000 to drill a well in South Sudan.  HMH also created an employee giving campaign which raised an additional $15,000 in just two weeks.

Scott noted that the employee effort "thrilled the employees of HMH and drew many of them closer to their company, connecting them with the larger purpose and impact of their jobs. All because of one boy’s determination to survive and then help the people he left behind."

WFSS Interview on World Water Day

WFSS Founder Salva Dut and WFSS Executive Director Lynn Malooly were interviewed on local Fox news show "Good Day Rochester."

Salva talked about WFSS operations in South Sudan and how a new well impacts a village.  Salva said that "drilling the well is just the beginning, you see a lot happening around the well." He noted that clean water brings improved health and greater opportunity for all, including opportunities for children to go to school.

"That seed of water you plant triggers so many things," he said. Salva also thanked the Rochester community for helping him start WFSS, and also thanked supporters around the world for helping WFSS carry out its mission in the world's newest country.

He noted that today "we are all one village, taking care of one another." 


Other media coverage included a radio story on local PBS affiliate WXXI.


World Water Day Celebration and Launch of Capital Campaign

Water for South Sudan held a World Water Day celebration and press conference on Tuesday, March 22nd, at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church (DUPC) in downtown Rochester, NY. Many friends and supporters joined us as we launched our first-ever capital campaign --Watering the Seeds of Change.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $1.5 million to purchase new drilling equipment, bolster staff in the US and South Sudan and develop a pilot sanitation program. The sanitation program will go hand-in-hand with WFSS’ hygiene education program so that South Sudanese villagers can obtain the greatest health benefits of receiving clean water.

As Salva discussed on World Water Day, WFSS’ work is so much more than bringing access to clean water. Once a village has a well, girls and women no longer have to walk for up to eight hours per day to obtain water for their families. Girls can then attend school, which gives them the education they need to create more prosperous lives, and women can focus on taking care of their families and operating small businesses. Where there are wells, life is cultivated. Markets spring up and the economy flourishes. Villages can remain in one place during the dry season because their inhabitants do not have to travel for up to six months to find water. A third-world nation can move out of the cycle of poverty and subsistence farming and make a comfortable living for its people. As Salva noted, "We have great hope. I myself am hopeful that things will change, because, what we are doing, we are planting the seeds."

Among those who attended our World Water Day celebration and press conference were John Kreckel, Economic Development Specialist and representative of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of the 25th District of New York; Gloria Hunter, representative of New York State Senator Rich Funke; Norman Jones, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services for the City of Rochester, representing Mayor Lovely Warren; and Frank Allkofer, Monroe County Legislator.

Jones presented a proclamation from Mayor Warren declaring that March 22nd, 2016, was a “day of honor for Salva Dut.”

Representative Louise Slaughter’s office presented Salva with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. New York State Senator The Monroe County Legislature also presented a Certificate of Recognition to Salva.

Throughout the event speakers noted the significance of Rochester as the place that first welcomed Salva as a refugee, helped him travel back to South Sudan to visit his father, and were integral to founding Water for South Sudan.

“Rochester has always been home to good neighbors who are willing to step-up and give of themselves to help others, so it is great to see one of our own making a big difference on the world stage,” said Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport). “I commend Salva Dut and his team at Water for South Sudan for their commitment to this cause and I look forward to watching their continued good works in the days to come.” 

WFSS has quietlly been raising funds for the capital campaign, with donations as of World Water Day totaling over $750,000. Additionally our World Water Day hosts, DUPC, presented WFSS with a check for $10,000. DUPC minister Rev. Pat Youngdahl expressed her admiration for Salva and WFSS.

Thank you to our supporters across the US and around the world for enabling our work. To help us Water the Seeds of Change, please visit our campaign 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 We look forward to seeing you there!

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.

WFSS & Sustainability Goals- Working Toward a Better Future

This is another post in our continuing series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

WFSS kids.jpg

Water is a universal need that is also a scarce resource. Unfortunately, this need increases with every day and the world needs to find a way to make water accessible to everyone who needs it. Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the Swedish International Water Institute (SIWI), told a panel discussion on water and the landscape approach, “There is an increasing demand and competition for water resources, so we need to be more efficient in the way we allocate water.”  

This is where the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals come in. Although Goal 6, Ensure access to water and sanitation for all, and the other Sustainable Development Goals have been met with a great amount of positivity, there are some who are not as sure of the impact that these goals will have on the world.

One such person is David Kuria, author of Sustainable Development Goals: Another Wasteful Venture for Kenya? Kuria, in his article, is wary of placing focus on global change. He suggests that “instead of prescribing a broad set of 17 goals for the world, we should instead be guided by a country’s own development priorities.” In his opinion, each country should make its own priorities because making generalizations about what needs to be fixed in the world may leave out some of the needs of different countries.

While this is a valid concern and countries should make sure that they are meeting the needs of their people, the Sustainable Development Goals are a much-needed stepping stone towards ending issues such as poverty, hunger, and lack of access to clean water. These goals, and other organizations that have the same objectives, encourage all who have the capability to change people’s lives. For the goals to be reached, all need to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and the people of the world. 

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) is committed to transforming lives by providing access to fresh water and hygiene education, and has been on the ground in South Sudan since 2005. Bringing access and education to those in need in remote villages, we are making a difference and helping people take a step towards a better future. 

As of August, 2015, WFSS has drilled 259 wells. Hygiene education has been a part of our work since 2014, and plans are underway to begin researching sanitation solutions in the areas in which we drill. The new season is set to begin in January, 2016. Goals include visiting 40 new villages to install wells and provide hygiene education, and launching a new pilot project which plans to rehabilitate the cement platforms of 20 older wells. 

Walking for Water or Walking to School— Water's Impact on Education

Here is another post in our continuing series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

The water crisis in South Sudan plays a large role in the lack of education available for school-aged children. South Sudanese who do not have access to clean water—about 68%—have to leave their villages and move for six months out of the year in order to find water. Thus, schools are not able to be sustained, so they are not built. In addition, many children’s parents succumb to diseases such as HIV/AIDS. This leaves these children as orphans and therefore responsible for finding work. They now have to provide for themselves and their siblings instead of seeking the opportunity to obtain an education. In Sudan and South Sudan combined, there are about 2 million orphaned children.     

The lack of access to clean water, however, especially affects girls. Girls are responsible for finding water for their families for up to eight hours per day. Thus, these girls cannot even attend school if there is a school in their village. If these girls are orphans, they also cannot find ways to provide for themselves because they are so busy trying to find water. If girls do attend school, they often have to drop out once they reach puberty if their schools do not have clean-water access. This is because they do not have use of proper toilets to take care of hygiene issues. Only 33% of South Sudanese girls attend school, and a mere 16% of girls ages 15 and older are literate.

This is a problem that Water for South Sudan (WFSS) works to remedy. One of WFSS’ missions is to raise money to drill clean-water wells in South Sudan so that more children can have the opportunity to go to school. If children and young people have clean water and can go to school, their opportunities for advancement are significantly increased. Thus, they can sustain a livelihood.

If you would like to learn more about Water for South Sudan and what they do, please visit WFSS website page detailing The Need in South Sudan.  or donate now here

Preventing Water Contamination

Water contamination is a universal issue that affects millions of people worldwide. In the US the issue was thrust into the spotlight over the controversy surrounding hydraulic fracking. The pumping of chemicals such as benzene near, or in some cases directly above, the ground water supply did not sit well with some Americans. In addition, a variety of viral videos and public accounts, most notably 2010’s Gasland, shed light on what effects these chemicals could have on the water supply. Videos showing tap water that burst into flames upon contact with a lighter showed the consequences of some of America’s pursuit of natural resources.

However, the USA is not the only country affected by water contamination. In fact, many countries throughout the world face problems that are perhaps more severe than those caused by hydraulic fracking. Diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery are all caused by water pollution. Sadly, South Sudan is not immune to such disease. In fact, much more of South Sudan’s population is at risk for water contamination than is the United States’. IRIN News reports that South Sudan has a water contamination problem that is two-fold. Not only is some of its drinking water contaminated, but the methods used to transport the water are often unsafe. Tankers that have been exposed to deadly diarrheal diseases are often reused and carry infected water into largely populated areas. In fact, CCN recently reported an outbreak of cholera in a crowded military barrack that result in around 200 deaths of armed personnel within South Sudan. Additional reports showed contamination of water wells in Unity State by nearby oil fields. Clearly, this is a problem that has large implications and a number of disastrous outcomes for a country that is already affected in a number of ways.

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) is committed to drilling new wells and providing greater access to a clean water supply. WFSS takes great care in the installation of wells to avoid contamination of the water source. In 2015 WFSS surveyed a large statistical sampling of wells which showed all to be in good operating order. WFSS also found that some of the cement platforms are in need of repair. They will launch a pilot platform rehabilitation team in 2016 to begin to address this issue, and to also continue to preserve the good quality of the water source for wells.

 In addition, as the number of clean drinking wells increases, communities will have more access to fresh water, and this in turn will limit the need for transport vehicles that can become contaminated. Joining with WFSS we can make a difference and stop the spread of harmful diseases.

SDGs: Ensuring Access to Water and Sanitation

The United Nations has developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that they hope to achieve between now and 2030. Covering a wide range of topics, these goals strive to “end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment and address climate change.” Among these goals, there are two water related targets, which aim to ensure access to water and sanitation for all and conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources.

One question that needs to be answered in terms of making these goals a reality is how they will be financed. Chris Williams, a writer for the Huffington Post and the Executive Director of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, voices his concerns in his article Can We Finance Sustainable Development? He explains that “Traditional channels of overseas development assistance (ODA) from developed nations to the developing world are not only insufficient for financing the ambitious post-2015 agenda, but it's clear that development as we know it is no longer relevant, nor desirable.”

Fortunately, there are many opportunities available for people to get involved in the global initiative to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all. Chris Williams states that one option that has proven successful is the use of global multi-stakeholder partnerships, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), and the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI). The UN also suggests that one thing the everyday person can do is raise awareness by joining or spreading the word about the civil society-led Action/2015 campaign, which will be hosting multiple events around the world.

 As for Water for South Sudan (WFSS), there are many options available for helping to drill more wells and increase access to safe, clean water. Water for South Sudan currently receives no government funding to run its operations in South Sudan. The nonprofit organization raises its own funds and is supported by donors in all 50 US States and 29 other countries. The full cost to drill a well  is $15,000, with well naming sponsorship levels starting at $5,000.  Individuals are encouraged to donate any gift amount, no matter how much, and groups, such as schools or families, can raise money through WFSS’s Well Sponsorship Program and receive naming rights for the well that they helped to finance. Other options include the H2O Project, which encourages people to donate the money they would spend on beverages for two weeks and only drink water, and organizing a fundraising project from one of the many ideas posted on the WFSS website.


World Toilet Day is November 19

World Toilet Day is a day to take action. It is a day to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet – despite the human right to water and sanitation. It is a day to do something about it.

Of the world’s seven billion people, 2.4 billion people do not have improved sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children.

We cannot accept this situation. Sanitation is a global development priority. This is why in 2013 the United Nations General Assembly officially designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. World Toilet Day is coordinated by UN-Water in collaboration with governments and relevant stakeholders.

 Improving sanitation and hygiene is one of the most crucial steps towards supporting better nutrition and improved health. In addition, investments in sanitation benefit women.

Check out the blog post on The link between gender equality and sanitation. post  by Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Group Senior Director for Water and Caren Grown, World Bank Group Senior Director for Gender. The blog originally appeared in Thomson Reuters Foundation.  

Providing Clean Water for Agriculture Improves Lives in South Sudan

 Watering a garden in wau, with water from a wfss well.

Watering a garden in wau, with water from a wfss well.

Here is another post in our continuing series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

South Sudan currently faces a water crisis. Across the world, 70 percent of our water supply is used for agriculture and irrigation. However, the South Sudanese do not have enough access to clean water to create sustainable farming for themselves. Even though access to clean water in this country is rare, 80 percent of the poor South Sudanese—which make up about half of the country’s population—rely on agriculture to make a living. Out of the water supply South Sudan has, 97 percent of it is used towards this agriculture. As such, agriculture is a lynchpin on which South Sudan’s population and economy relies.

However, since access to clean water is limited, the South Sudanese not only face limitations in how many crops they can produce, they also face dire nutritional consequences. Thirty-six percent of South Sudanese are classified as food insecure, which means that they do not have sufficient access to nutritious and cost-effective food. In addition, 47 percent of the population is classified as malnourished. In order to help South Sudan thrive, then, there is a fundamental need for clean water so that people can grow crops. This would not only increase the general health of the South Sudanese; it would also lead to a more prosperous economy for this developing country.

This is one of the many needs that Water for South Sudan (WFSS) tries to meet. WFSS raises money to sponsor the drilling of clean water wells in South Sudan. When these wells are built, the South Sudanese have access to clean water to improve health, and also to make a living through agriculture. This not only improves their economy, but also increases their nutritional intake and life spans, as well.

If you would like to find out more about South Sudan’s needs and what you can do to help, please visit the WFSS website to learn about the need for water in South Sudan. To donate to WFSS, please visit the WFSS donation page