Turning a dirty swamp into potable water saves thousands of displaced South Sudanese from deadly diseases

The water is murky and dirty indicating high contamination levels. Apart from being the only source of water for the 6,300 displaced South Sudanese living in Kor Adar Camp in Melut County, it is also used by animals for drinking. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Manager Brighton Mapiye said the water from the swamp is unfit for human consumption as it causes diarrheal diseases which can lead to deaths of individuals. Without a choice, the people kept using the water for their daily needs.

After finding out of their predicament, World Vision immediately set up the Emergency Surface Water Treatment (SWAT) Systems pumping water from the swamp and cleaning it through a process of coagulation and chlorination. The swamp is, however, seasonal and during the dry season the community runs out of water.

Water is a precious commodity in Kor Adar Camp and even in many parts of South Sudan. Having an easy access to clean water saves lives and make life more convenient for the South Sudanese women.

During peak of the dry season, World Vision provides clean and safe water through water trucking bringing water from the main river source, the River Nile and treating it on the established SWAT systems. This option is very expensive and is not sustainable with very limited donor funding available to support it. The area is dominated by vast stretch of black-cotton soil (characteristic of most soils in upper Nile region). Black cotton soil exhibits low permeability hence poses difficulties on any ground water development options. World Vision continues to explore long-term solution.

Mapiye says, “The busiest period is in the morning when most of the women would get water for the needs of their families for the day.” The peak time for water collection is at 7:00-9:30 in the morning and at 5:00-6:00 in the afternoon. To reduce the waiting time, World Vision set up a network of water points with each water point having various taps used by communities to fetch water. Even little girls can carry a 5 liter Jeri-cans full of water to help their mothers.

That morning, 20-year old mother of one, Adao, came as she usually did, with a bright yellow 20 litre jerry can which she received from WVI. She said they used to get their water from the swamp even if they know it was dirty and contaminated. With the water coming from World Vision’s SWAT systems, she is happy the people in the camp are safe from diseases.

Apart from providing clean and safe water, World Vision is also engaged in food assistance, nutrition, education, protection and gender-based violence programming within the camp. The camp is home for 6,300 IDPs who were displaced from Baliet County during the conflict which started in 2013.