Access to clean water from safe sources has been a great challenge for residents of Um Dawanban, Bahr al Arab locality, in East Darfur state. In fact, the only safe source of clean water residents relied on, was operated by an electric generator that frequently broke down.
The generator eventually stopped working, adversely affecting the community's water supply. Residents say the situation was particularly worse, during the summer season when they suffered severe water shortages.
But that’s not all.
The amount of water that came out, was very little as the area Sheikh, Mohammed Ali Osman put it, "even when the generator was working, the amount of water was so little that not all people could get enough water to cater for their household needs."
According to Sheikh Mohammed, by the end of October, the generator eventually stopped working altogether. “When the generator stopped working, residents had to walk long distances in search of clean water,” Sheikh Mohammed explained.
The nearest village, was seven kilometres away.
“The water quality also became an issue of great concern because the sources were not safe,” Sheikh Mohammed added.
Mohammed Khamis, a member of the water management committee at community level, explained that: “there was only one trough where people collected water coming from the tank.”
That meant that the residents shared one source of water with their animals. Khamis further notes that as a result of the sharing, some residents contracted anthrax, a fever caused by a virus transmitted from animal to human beings through water.
“This added to the challenges the residents had to endure, observed Khamis, as the local health facilities are ill-equipped to handle such cases.”
Thanks to funding from Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), World Vision has supported the rehabilitation of the water yard of Um Dawanban.
This includes a 60-metre pipeline extension to connect water from the elevated tank with a main line of the distribution points that includes a water kiosk, water stands fitted with 20 taps, and troughs for the animals. This is in addition to constructing two public distribution tap stands.
Government agency, Water, Environment and Sanitation Corporation (WES), also chipped in to support with generator donation.
Shazali Mohammed Idris, a WASH coordinator, with World Vision in East Darfur state, says the rehabilitation of the water system including installation of several distribution points has cut down the time spent by the community in collecting water.
“Now 20 people can get water at the same time within a short amount of time, owing to the several water taps installed, compared to before when people had to wait longer.
45-year-old Fatima Adam is one of the 7,000 beneficiaries of the rehabilitated water project.
She noted that the rehabilitation of the water source has ensured that residents have sufficient amount of water for their daily use.
“When the station was not operational, we had no option but to go collect water from a distant village, nearly 10 kilometres away, and because it was far, we had to reduce the amount of water we carried,” she recalled.
“What’s more, we had to wake up very early, in order to avoid walking under the intense heat of the midday sun,” Fatima further observed.
The situation for Fatima and her family is now different because they can make as many trips to the water point. “Our house is approximately 20 minutes-walk from the water station,” Fatima narrates, furthermore, the amount of water coming out of the taps has increased.”
The experience is very similar for 61-year-old Al Siam Musa, a father of seven, who also agrees that the rehabilitated water station will save residents time and effort spent in search of water.
“I used to travel a long way when there was no water in this yard, now it takes me just about five minutes to fill up my containers,” Al Siam noted.
World Vision’s OFDA project manager, Marcelius Moyo, noted that among other benefits, the water scheme will reduce: the time spent by community members to collect water, the risk of waterborne disease infection, as well as water contamination given that there is a designated water station for animals to drink from.
12-year-old, Fatima, a fifth grader likes to help her mother with household chores such as collecting water, during school holidays. “I am very happy that I don’t have to go very far, to fetch water. I am happy that we have enough water at home, every day,” Fatima said.
To oversee the use and management of the water scheme, a WASH committee consisting of ten community members, has been established. Members have been equipped on how to operate the generator and fix broken taps, as well as supported with maintenance kits.
The committee is also responsible for keeping the water station clean and overseeing the daily supervision of water distribution, among other things.