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How clean water brought change to one Sudanese village

© UNICEF Sudan/2012
The water station at Abudahya

By Drissa Yeo

May 8, 2012, Abu Dahya, West Darfur, Sudan:  Before the war, in the village of Abu Dahya, collecting water would take up a large part of the day.
“Things were bad,” says Mariam Ibrahim Idriss, a member of the village Water Sanitation and Health Committee. “Women spent more than three hours walking with jerry-cans on their heads.”
 The head of the WASH committee, Goma Adam Yusif agrees.

“People were suffering in this painful journey – especially the women and children. We were sending the children to collect water before sunrise but they had no time for school.”

Then, in 2004, the war changed everyone’s lives: the entire village fled the fighting.  The 1,700 inhabitants of Abu Dahya ended up in camps set up for people displaced by the conflict, or as refugees across the border in Chad.
But with war came increased international involvement in Darfur.   The following year it was safe enough for people to return to the village.  In 2006 UNICEF and its partner, Save the Children USA, established a water station which the village took over running directly last year.
The water station is now financed, cleaned and maintained by the village, a job organized by the WASH committee.
“We decided to run our station by collecting 5 Sudanese Pounds (approximately $1) per family per month,” says Goma Adam Yusif. He says the facility has not only helped people keep clean but helped address the spread of diseases like diarrhoea often caused by insanitary conditions.

© UNICEF Sudan/2012
The village WASH committee meets regularly

But that is not the only benefit.   Village chief Guma Adam Atim says: “Now the water point is only 50 meters from homes, so children are going to school because they are not needed to collect water.”“Now the water point is only 50 meters from homes, so children are going to school because they are not needed to collect water.”
 A nomad leader, Mohammed Baraka Hanu, who is also a member of the WASH committee says that the shared water point has also helped build better relations among the people living in the area.  “We became neighbours, sisters and brothers as we are sharing the same water source.”

Mariam believes that everyone has a great incentive to keep the water station running properly.  “Now life is better.  By keeping the water station operating through our management and tariff collection for operation and maintenance, we will make sure not to go back to the old situation.”



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