South Sudan: South Sudan: Salesian Missionaries dig new well providing close to 4,000 people clean, safe water
Salesian missionaries have completed a water well project in Morobo, a village less than two miles away from Don Bosco Gumbo, a Salesian center located in the town of Gumbo on the outskirts of Juba, the largest city and capital of South Sudan. The village had been completely destroyed during the country’s fight for independence in 2011 and much of its population had fled to safer areas. Despite continued fighting across South Sudan even after independence was gained, close to 4,000 people have come back to make the village of Morobo their home once again.
One the most urgent needs in Morobo is access to clean, safe water. The nearest water source is in Juba which requires residents to make a long daily trek to carry water back to their homes. From November to May each year, South Sudan experiences a dry season and most sources of surface water dry up. According to The Water Project, an organization that provides access to clean, safe and reliable water across sub-Saharan Africa, this lack of surface water forces millions of South Sudanese to leave their homes in search of water. Some have to abandon their homes and move all together while others are forced to trek miles every day to collect water from ponds, marshes, ditches or hand-dug wells.
Women and children bear the primary responsibility for water collection in the majority of households and globally, spend 140 million hours a day collecting water. Children in these communities are forced to walk for hours to collect drinking water. Many others are unable to attend school regularly because they must spend time searching for distant wells. Often the water they find is contaminated with disease-causing parasites and bacteria and if drunk, results in pain, sickness and even death, especially for infants and children.
The new water well project in Morobo provides the local people drinking water as well as water for sanitation and daily chores. Missionaries constructed the water well by drilling a borehole and installing a hand pump. Its construction will improve the health of residents, increase agricultural production and lead to a better quality of life for families, especially for girls and women.
“From safe drinking water and healthy sanitation to agriculture, water is essential for life,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian Missions has made building wells and other projects that supply fresh, clean water a top priority for every community in every country in which Salesian missionaries work.” Don Bosco Gumbo includes a Salesian parish, secondary school and youth center and offers educational and social development services to youth and their families living in Morobo. For some, the education offered at Don Bosco Gumbo’s secondary school is the only opportunity to gain an education and the skills necessary for future employment.
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with 55 percent of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Only 27 percent of the population aged 15 years and older is literate, with significant gender disparities. The literacy rate for males is 40 percent compared to 16 percent for females. Less than one percent of girls complete primary education.
The Water Project
World Bank – South Sudan