WFSS Finishes Drilling Season with 40 New Wells

Celebrating a new well in the village of Akurbiok in Tonj North County in Warrap State.Water for South Sudan finished its 2013-14 drilling season in May with 40 new wells, bringing the grand total to 217 wells drilled by the organization since 2005. WFSS wells are now serving over 500,000 people in South Sudan. Each well brings access to clean water to thousands. A new well can also be the catalyst for development and a new future for each village.

The team faced the usual challenges of harsh conditions, lack of infrastructure in the new country and extreme temperatures, often reaching 120° and higher. This year there was the additional issue of conflict in parts of South Sudan. While some of the challenges slowed down the team, particularly equipment breakdowns, they were still able to reach their goal of 40 new wells.

Conflict broke out in the capital city of Juba in December, 2013, just as the WFSS drilling season was starting. Salva and the WFSS team were able to continue drilling as the unrest was primarily in eastern parts of the country, far from the WFSS drilling areas in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap States.

WFSS continues to monitor the situation in South Sudan and strongly supports the ongoing peace process. Salva Dut, WFSS Founder and Executive Director for East African Operations, notes that all parties engaged in the peace process must continue working for a lasting peace.  He urges all advocating for peace, including the UN, US, Europe and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development- an eight-country trading bloc based in Eastern Africa that is leading peace talks) to continue the pressure on the opposing parties in South Sudan to come to a peaceful solution.

"We should not give up on that," says Salva. "War comes and goes in South Sudan, but we will find a way to be peaceful. Peace will come from the people."

The WFSS Board of Directors expressed its gratitude to the WFSS South Sudan team at its recent annual board meeting, noting that in addition to drilling 40 wells, the team launched a new hygiene education project (see story below) and also continued the work of repairing wells drilled by other organizations.  In 2013-14 WFSS repaired 17 of those broken wells.

"The success of this season was unprecedented," noted WFSS Board President Christopher Moore at the 2014 Annual Meeting. "We are grateful to the entire team, and especially for the leadership of Salva Dut, Ater  Thiep and John Mourwel in achieving, and surpassing, the goals of this season." 

The team traveled to Rochester, New York, USA, in June for annual meetings with WFSS staff and board of directors.  They debriefed on this past season and are already planning for the 2014-15 season.


New WFSS Team Expands Impact with Hygiene Education

Villagers work together to identify hygiene problems and solutions.WFSS launched a Hygiene Education pilot project in January of 2014.  The project was highly successful and will be continued and expanded for the next drilling season.

Salva Dut launched the project in January with a new hygiene team made up of one man and one woman. The team traveled with the drilling crew to work with villagers to identify hygiene problems and solutions.

The team was able to visit 23 villages and 24 schools, reaching 150 students and 53 people from vulnerable groups such as those unable to read. The training helped communities to improve hygiene behaviors, prevent diarrheal disease and encourage community management of water and facilities.

The hygiene pilot project used a participatory model with the understanding that programs are more likely to be successful if they are determined by the community, rather than imposed by an agency. The method encourages participation of individuals in a group process, regardless of age, sex, educational background or social status. They are especially useful for encouraging the participation of women.  Participatory methods are designed to build self-esteem and a sense of responsibility for one’s decisions. Participants also learn from each other and develop respect as they share knowledge and skills.

WFSS is pleased to be able to expand the impact of its work with this project. Knowledge of safe hygiene practices will help villagers to stay healthy and benefit even more from the availability of clean water.



Collaborating for Peace and Development in South Sudan

UPDP well #3 was drilled in Pajiing village in Warrap State.Water for South Sudan and Aqua-Africa partnered during the 2013-14 drilling season to drill four wells as part of the United for Peace and Development Project (UPDP)

The leaders of Water for South Sudan and Aqua-Africa are united in their drive to help their fellow citizens. Salva Dut, a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan and founder of WFSS, and Buey Ray Tut, born in what was then Southern Sudan and founder of Aqua-Africa, both became US citizens and founders of US nonprofits working in South Sudan.  They are also from different tribes, which have a history of conflict.

“We are dedicated to our nation,” says Buey, who is from the Nuer tribe. “We are trying to make our country a better place.” Salva, from the Dinka tribe, agrees. “We need peace in our country,” says Salva.  “We want to show people how we can all work together.”

Salva and Buey, and their organizations, came together to drill wells, and show, by their collaboration, how to work together to make a difference and build a nation. UPDP was inaugurated in February and March with the drilling of four wells.  Plans are underway for the project to continue in December, at the start of WFSS' 2014-15 drilling season.  WFSS drills the wells which are funded jointly by both organizations.



WFSS Travels to DC for Meetings and Congressional Panel

Buey Ray Tut, of Aqua-Africa, and Salva Dut of WFSS in front of USAID offices May 28, 2014Salva Dut and members of WFSS traveled to Washington, DC May 27-28 to meet with members of the US State Department, USAID, and to participate in a special briefing session: Transforming South Sudan Through Innovative Partnerships: The Power of Water.

The special briefing session was sponsored by Representative Chris Smith. Gregory Simpkins, Subcommittee Staff Director of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, provided opening remarks. Jason Matus, AECOM’s Senior Sudan/South Sudan Coordinator chaired a panel of experts that included: Salva Dut, Executive Director and Founder of Water for South Sudan; Buey Tut, Executive Director and Founder of Aqua-Africa and Anthony Kolb, Health Advisor for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
The panelists discussed the importance of clean water and sanitation not only to address humanitarian needs during the current unrest in South Sudan, but also as an on-going need for development.  The panelists urged continued engagement with, and development in, the new country of South Sudan.

As Salva noted in his closing statement, “I want the government of the US to not turn away from us. We are good people and we are going to make it…I want the US to invest in South Sudan.” 

Read more about the special briefing session here.  You can listen to an audio recording of the session here.





200 Wells Drilled to Date. Crew Safe in South Sudan.

Ater "Lion" Thiep, WFSS Drilling Manager, helps bring fresh water,and smiles, to villages.Water for South Sudan has begun 2014 in record fashion with 23 wells drilled as of early March, which brings our grand total to 200 wells drilled since 2005. Last fall team members prepared for the drilling season by repairing vehicles and equipment and procuring supplies. They went into the field in early December and have been drilling successfully since then with small time-outs for additional repairs.  

In January, the new WFSS Hygiene Team joined the drilling crew, bringing hygiene education to villages receiving wells. Our new team helps villagers deal with a number of water and hygiene related health problems. They involve the villagers in identifying those problems and their solutions. Read more on this exciting new project here.

Our drilling team has also begun a systematic reporting of the additional wells that they repair as they travel to drilling sites. Repairing and maintaining non-functioning wells is now an integral part of drilling operations.  Since 2013 we have helped villages to maintain at least 17 wells, not originally drilled by Water for South Sudan.  Knowing that wells serve an average 1500 people, these recent repairs have enabled renewed access to clean water for more than 25,000 people.

On December 15, 2013 fighting broke out in the South Sudan capital of Juba and later spread to three of South Sudan’s 10 states as forces loyal to President Salva Kiir battled anti-government rebels linked to former vice-president Riek Machar.  Since then, violence has affected parts of the country and over 700,000 people have been displaced.

WFSS crews have been safe at all times, reporting that the situation in Wau, home to the WFSS operations compound, has been unaffected by the turmoil. Our operations and drilling in the region continues to be unaffected.  The WFSS board and staff in the US have been in close contact with our South Sudan team and continue to monitor the situation very closely.

WFSS joins the international community in supporting a peaceful resolution of conflict in South Sudan.