New water system brings relief to communities in East Darfur
It is a big relief from the difficulties we endured while collecting water from the open and deep hand-dug wells.”
Thirty-year old Asha Ibrahim, a mother of three has lived in Ladoob village, Yassin locality in East Darfur state most of her life.
The locality is also home to refugees, host communities that mainly depend on farming and animal keeping, living semi nomadic lifestyles for a living.
For many years, the communities in Ladood depended on a water source UNICEF had installed some time ago, for clean and safe water for their families and animals. Until recently, the water was sufficient.
But as the conflict in Khartoum continues, more and more people are arriving in Ladoob. The mass displacements are putting a huge strain on the water supply. Women and girls now spend long hours queuing for water in the scorching sun, while many resort to collecting water from dirty and unsafe hand-dug wells. Collecting water, a daily basic and life critical activity, has turned into a threat to those mostly responsible for it – children (mostly girls) and women.
Clean and safe water flows through the taps
In May 2023, the lives of Asha and 10,000 other people living in remote Yassin locality and neighbouring areas changed when UNICEF and partners installed a new hybrid motorized borehole, equipped with a climate-friendly hybrid solar-power system, and generator to support the continuous flow of clean and safe water. The water facility funded by the Peace Building Fund serves about 6,000 people of which 2,700 are children.
“We are very happy to have water because we suffered in the past. It is a big relief from the difficulties we endured while collecting water from the open and deep hand-dug wells,” Asha jubilated.
“We had a lot of sickness and having clean water has helped us a lot,” she continued.
As the drilling was going on, women, men, children – old and young, could not hide their excitement while watching the workers drilling the arid ground. Nervously waiting and praying for fresh, clean water to bubble up from the deep trenches. The first of its kind in Ladoob village.
“It was like a miracle to the people here. They had never seen water coming from the borehole,” Asha continued while reacting to the new water source.
Women, girls, boys, and men were all streaming to draw water amidst a beehive of activity as people carrying their plastic jerricans came to fetch clean water.
The new facility with ten outlets, supports easy collection of water by several people at a time greatly reducing queues and improving community relations and fostering peace. There is sufficient water for everyone with an estimated 23 litres per person per day.
What a relief the clean and safe drinking water is, especially for women and girls who previously trekked long distances to collect dirty water from unsafe places.
Mariam Ali is another mother from the community at the water point that is now so close to her home.
“The water source is just ten minutes away from my house,” Mariam happily explains. “I collect water whenever I want, it is readily available.”
Clean water and more
Mariam and other community members are also benefiting from sanitation awareness initiatives supported by UNICEF. By engaging in these initiatives, they are compelled and supported to construct and use latrines, promoting an open defecation free environment, and helping people to stay clean and healthy - free of diseases.
UNICEF and partners have also revived the water user committee and trained its members to oversee the operation and maintenance of the facility and manage the water user fees (5 Sudanese pounds) paid by the community to sustain the project.
Asha a local volunteer for several years in Ladoob, is among the trainees and today her duties include chlorination of the water, maintaining the operation of the system, water safety and promoting good hygiene. Having served as a volunteer and health promoter in her village, Asha is guarding the water facility zealously and taking her role seriously.
“Before I joined the water committee, I provided solutions to challenges people faced, which earned me the name ‘Miss Solution’,” Asha shared with a smile.
“I really like doing this work and I love sharing knowledge with my community.”
Today the mother of three conducts house-to-house visits to inspect water containers, ensuring they remain clean and covered, and speaking to the importance of hygiene. She believes that clean water and proper hygienic behavior go hand in hand.
“I practice safe hygiene in my own home, so I am saving the lives of my children and providing advice on best hygiene practices,” Asha mentioned.
She continues to witness changes in her community including the reduction of open defecation and improved hygiene and sanitation practices.
In East Darfur, since the beginning of the crisis, UNICEF and partners have stayed to deliver, stepping up the provision of clean and safe water to over 165,000 people (90,750 children), as well as improving sanitation for over 4,500 (2,475 children) and hygiene measures to more than 72,000 (39,600 children), among both displaced and host communities. This support is essential in this type of emergency situations, where limited existing resources come under pressure and water-borne diseases can easily spread rapidly.