12/04/2011 – With a size three times that of Switzerland, Jonglei state is the largest of ten states in Southern Sudan. In Jonglei, cattle raiding and clan fighting is common and it often results in thousands of people being displaced every year. After the general election in 2010, another conflict erupted in Jonglei over the post of state governor. Once again, many people were left homeless and de facto became internally displaced.
Khorfulus Boma, a small village by the river in northern Jonglei, received more than 6,000 internally displaced people. Medair, a non governmental organization working in Southern Sudan since 1992, conducted a needs assessment in the water and sanitation sector as this represented a major concern for the villagers.
With only one safe water point, the local population primarily used untreated river water, which caused a high incidence of water-borne diseases. The arrival of thousands of displaced people put a further strain on local resources and on the existing and already inadequate water system.
Medair’s assessment revealed that the most appropriate system for ensuring access to safe drinking water would be through a surface water treatment or a SWAT. This type of system, according to Medair, could be set up quickly and operated by the local population after only a short training period.
The SWAT water system was installed successfully and as a result of this rapid response, both local residents and internally displaced people gained access to safe drinking water, which in turn significantly reduced their vulnerability to water-borne diseases.
Medair, with the financial and technical support of European Union Humanitarian Aid, has provided assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters in South Sudan through medical assistance and water and sanitation services. In 2010 alone, Medair reached more than 160,000 people through 18 rapid response actions across ten states in South Sudan.
By Marilena Chatziantoniou