Water access in Sudan boosts development, helps reduce tensions

More than 10,000 people in the South Kordofan state of Sudan now have improved access to clean water, following completion of a reservoir through an initiative managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Some 40 percent of people living in the state do not have access to groundwater through wells or boreholes, and rely on rain water and its run-off for their livelihoods between June and December. For the rest of the year, they have to find alternative sources, sometimes walking for long distances.

The recently completed reservoir, storage tank and treatment station lie in the state’s southeast El Ganaya district, which was hard hit during the north-south civil war from 1983 to 2005.

The new infrastructure now provides a dependable water flow for residents of the area and their livestock, helping to reduce local competition and related tensions over the previously scarce supplies.

“A reliable water resource close to our village means our children will spend less time collecting water and have more time for school,” says Salim Turab, head of the water committee overseeing the reservoir.

“Now villagers won’t have to go in search of water and they will have more time to prepare their land for the next crop”.

The Turab family’s livelihood depends on the sorghum crop they grow on 10 acres of land. From a good harvest the family accumulate food stocks enough for a year and a small surplus can be sold for cash.

Before the reservoir was built, family members, often women, had to make a four-hour return trek to collect just enough water to survive. Now, the trip to get water from the reservoir is down to 20 minutes.

UNDP works with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to achieve sustainable human development focused on inclusive growth, cutting poverty and reducing vulnerability to shocks such as natural disasters and conflict.

The water reservoir is the first of its kind in South Kordofan, and is part of a recovery and rehabilitation programmemanaged by UNDP on behalf of the country’s Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, funded largely by the European Commission.

Other partners include a consortium of non-governmental organizations including Save the Children Sweden, Danish Church Aid, the Nuba Relief Rehabilitation and Development Organisation, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Obeid.