Education thrives with access to clean water

Water supply project changes the lives of students and teachers

Lisa Lynn Hill
Children at a water pump
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Hill
22 July 2021

Yambio, South Sudan – In the dusty school yard with partially built classrooms and an overflow of classes being held under mango trees, Pazuo Primary School in Yambio is a step closer to improving education for children; actually, 4000 meters closer.

These students had to walk an 8-kilometre round trip to fetch water before the new borehole was constructed in the school.

An outdoor classroom
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Hill
Primary 2 Teacher, Sanitina Tamuata, conducting English Language class.

“I’ve been teaching under this mango tree for 11 years. Students would miss a lot of lessons to go to the water hole located far away at the next school.”

– Sanitina Tamuata, Primary 2 teacher at Pazuo Primary School

With access to clean water from a newly drilled borehole, 732 students and 10 teachers at the Pazuo Primary School now have more time to focus on education and have improved health and safety.

“I feel very relieved that the children can walk over there to get water and not have to go all the way to the old water point,” says Sanitina, as she motions to the brand-new borehole which is just a few steps away from her classrooms. This borehole means the children can now wash their hands after using the bathroom and drink water whenever they are thirsty. It also means that they can spend more time in the classrooms and focus on their education.

The gravity-based water supply system is constructed to pull the water up from 82 meters below, where a clean and sustainable source flows. This is the new lifeline to the school. “We are so happy now that there is water in the school, the food is served right on time,” says 13-year- old Mariam Alfred. Before, students had to take turns fetching heavy buckets of water from 4 kilometers away, often causing the meals to be prepared late.

“Also, it is not safe for girls like us when we go to fetch the water,” says Mariam, referring to the physical violence girls face when walking into the bush where they are vulnerable to assault and rape. Moreover, the borehole ensures that girls remain in school during their periods as they now have the means to manage their menstrual health and hygiene. Before they would stay home during their monthly periods.

Headteacher, Andrea Zekpete, says that more students will be in class now that they have access to water.
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Hill
Andrea Zekpete, Pazuo Primary School Headmaster, says the new borehole is a blessing for his school.

Clean water in the school also provides protection against diseases. These students are now able to ensure that they can wash their hands with water and soap, which cuts down on cases of diarrhoea and protects them from malnutrition. Additionally, a healthy and hydrated child has a much clearer head to focus on learning.

“Attendance in my school has increased since the borehole has come,” says Andrea Zekpete, Headmaster of Pazuo Primary School. “The pump has made a big difference in the school as students try to go to the closest school with good teachers and facilities." With support from the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW Development Bank, UNICEF has completed eight new boreholes in the schools of Yambio in the past few months, and a ninth one is in progress. In South Sudan, where only 40 per cent of the population has access to safe water, setting up a borehole makes a huge difference in the daily lives of many people. Thousands of students and community members will benefit from this project.

“My students are now performing better. I am happy when I look over and see the pump there,” says Sanitina as she smiles and hands a piece of chalk to her student.

UNICEF thanks donors such as the Federal Republic of Germany through KfW Development Bank, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and USAID for their support of the WASH programme in South Sudan.