Urban WASH programme in Juba will provide life-saving water to 100,000 persons

This includes more than 30,000 infants, children, women and men in the IDP sites

Text by Robin Giri and images by Sebastian Rich
05 December 2021

The Juba pipeline project treats water from the Nile River, purifies it and pumps it to host populations in Juba city, including the internally displaced persons camps, which house people who were displaced by the conflict in 2013.

Water is a precious commodity in this camp, which on last count, houses more than 30,000 civilians. This camp was set up by the United Nations Mission to South Sudan in 2013 to protect civilians and children caught in the fighting. Due to continuing insecurity in South Sudan, most families stayed. There is no source of clean water, other than what is trucked in every day by UNICEF since 2013 and what is over-charged by private vendors.

A man in yellow vest takes notes at a water project
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

The Juba pipeline project is part of UNICEF’s urban water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme and is a major project constructed jointly by UNICEF and the UN Mission to South Sudan. The Government of Germany through the KFW Development Bank supported UNICEF.

Tesfay talks to a technician and monitors the gauges in the pumping station
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

The project when complete will have the capacity to treat and pump 4.6 million litres of water in 24 hours. The Juba pipeline project involves different stages whereby dirty river water is pumped directly from the Nile River to the treatment and purification plant more than 1 kilometre in the first stage.

Technicians at the intake point of the Juba Pipeline project as they monitor the flow of water to the treatment plant
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

Right from the beginning, once the water begins to pump, the onsite technicians constantly monitor the pumps and the gauges to ensure that the water pressure is kept constant, and that no debris and other foreign matter blocks the intake valves and clog the water pumps.

Showing the exterior of the water treatment plant at the Juba pipeline project
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

The dirty river water is pumped uphill to the treatment plant which has the capacity to treat 4.6 million litres every 24 hours. It is here that the dirty river water will go through a series of processes and will be turned into clean water.

Tesfay stands over the sedimentation tank
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

At the first stage, when the water enters the treatment plant, aluminium sulphate is added as a flocculant. The water then travels through a winding maze of corridors in the flocculation area, whereby the water pressure is stabilised, and from here the water flows into the sedimentation tank. In the sedimentation tank, the aluminium sulphate helps to push all the solid particles, dirt and any sediment together in clumps, which then settle at the bottom of the sedimentation tank.

Tesfay standing on a ladder above the section where the filtration process is conducted
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

From the sedimentation tank, water that has been cleared of solid materials then flows down into the filtration tanks. Here the water goes through five different stages of filtration – running through five different troughs with aggregates measuring from 54 mm all the way through the last stage where it passes through a sand bed with aggregates measuring 0.2 mm.

Image of technician testing in the laboratory to decide on chlorine treatment
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

After the water has passed through the filtration process it then flows into the “clean water tank” – where a lab technician tests the water quality every four hours and advises other technicians how much chlorine should be added to the tank at any given time to kill the bacteria and any other dangerous organisms.

The water is pumped almost four kilometres to the top of the Jebel mountains for storing and distribution
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

The cleaned and treated water is now ready for human consumption. This clean water is then pumped almost four kilometres uphill to the three large reservoir tanks at one of the highest points around Juba city. The water is stored in three separate tanks, each with a capacity of 300,000 litres. From here the water travels by gravity to the beneficiaries.

Women stand around and the water point to collect, Alice is in the picture.
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

The water from the Juba pipeline project will be distributed to 100,000 beneficiaries, including mothers like Alice Abalo at IDP camp 3 who has a family of six. The water from the Juba pipeline project will save her money as she will no longer have to buy water from private contractors.

Angelina gives a glass of water to her son at home.
UNICEF South Sudan/2021/Rich

The Juba pipeline project will provide water to the water points whereby women like Angelina (pictured with her son) will be able to easily collect water needed for her entire household. She will also be saved from her almost daily trip to forage for firewood, which she has been selling in the camp to afford water.

Improved access to clean water will go a long way in changing the lives of children, women and men. Access to clean water contributes to improved hygiene and sanitation of the communities and will improve the health and nutrition for children under five years of age. Improved health means less school days missed due to illnesses and will also help to prevent COVID-19.

UNICEF thanks donors like the Government of Germany through the KFW Development Bank for their support to UNICEF’s WASH programme in South Sudan.