Water and sanitation is a basic human right for all. Yet, water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population (UN Report on Clean Water and Sanitation). Unfortunately, in countries like South Sudan, although completely preventable, water and sanitation-related diseases are among the top killers of children under five.
Six-year old, Mary, reaches for the water pump handle well above her head to fill her large jerry can with water. In one effortless motion, she hoists the jerry can onto her head balancing it on her head without her hands.
With the help of the South Sudan Red Cross, Mary and more than 500 community members in her village in Yambio now have access to clean, drinking water. Mary and her neighbours used to fetch dirty water down by a stream a half-hour away from her house and back; now, clean water is at her doorstep.
“The stream was making us sick,” says Victoria Richard, another villager living close by. “In rainy season, the water would get even more dirty and when it was dry, there would be no water at all.”
“Now that we have this borehole, we’re closer to clean water.”
The responsibility of fetching water is traditionally the role of women and children in rural South Sudan who often have to venture far distances by foot at least three times a day.
“Water is a major concern in these communities. We see that more than 90 per cent of the people fetching water are women and girls who must travel long distances,” says Michael Charles, Head of Country Office for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
“Red Cross is here through the power of our volunteer network to help bring water closer to the communities to ensure that women and their families are healthier and safe.”
With the support of the Government of Japan, the South Sudan Red Cross is targeting 3.1 million people, including 560,000 children under five, to help prevent common illnesses in rural communities, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. More than 5,000 people now have access to clean drinking water in through this project with millions more using safer health, sanitation and hygiene practices that keep their families safe and healthy.
Photos and content written by: Corrie Butler