Women + Water = TRUE

Putting children's health before their own income

Helene Sandbu Ryeng
A women is doing thumbs up
10 March 2020

“When the men realized this was unpaid work, they didn’t want it. So, we said; we are women, we take care of our children, we will do it,” says Angelina Njaore Tural.

She is the chair lady of the community water committee in Hai Sluk in Rubkona. Together with four other women, she has taken on one of the most important jobs; keeping children healthy.

Surrounded by a simple fence made out chicken sire on wooden frames, women are gathered around the four faucets spewing out clean drinking water which is gathered in yellow jerrycans and white buckets.

“Before we had to spend time going to the river for water, but the biggest change is in our children. They are no longer sick,” Angelina explains.

The water kiosk is fairly new. Four years ago, Rubkona experienced a massive cholera outbreak which was extremely difficult to curb due to the widespread use of dirty drinking water.

“We had to do something,” Abe Charles says. He is a UNICEF WASH officer working on securing safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene for children and their families in Unity state.

A UNICEF officer smiling
UNICEF WASH officer Abe Charles

A water treatment plant was established, purifying water from the river close by. Some 500,000 litters of water is then sent out to 16 water points as far as 3.5 kilometres, serving hospitals and schools and communities such as Hai Sluk.

UNICEF South Sudan/Ryeng

“I have seven children and as a mother I have been worried a lot because of dirty water. Now, we see less illness, less diarrhoea not only among the children but also the rest of us,” Mary Nyalow says. She is one of the members of the community water committee.

“Furthermore, I’m disabled and using crouches to move around. So, you can imagine what a relief it is to me to have clean water in my neighbourhood.

A woman smiling
Angelina Njaore Tural is the chair lady of the community water committee in Hai Sluk in Rubkona.

The five women in the community water committee is tasked with keeping the site clean and secure including locking it up for the night. They organize the que so there is no there is no fighting over who is next in line.

“You know, here in South Sudan, water has always been the work of women so, this came natural to us,” Angelina Njandol finishes.

Rubkona and Unity state is a hotspot for returnees and have received close to 20 per cent of all South Sudanese refugees returning to their homeland. Improvement in the security situation is named as the number one reason. If the stability continues, there is a high chance that more people will return from neighbouring countries.

“If this trend continues, and we think it will, we will need to scale up to ensure everyone has access to clean water, this is the most basic of all needs,” Abe Chales says and adds;

“I’m so proud that we have been able to keep this place at zero cholera after the major outbreak, I hope it will continue like this.”

Four ladies standing
The Community Water Committee in Hai Sluk in Rubkona. One member was not present when the picture was taken.

The treatment of water in Rubkona is supported by the Japanese Government and SIDA.