Water brings people together

World Water Day

Water brings people together

World Water Day

Water source: Women gather around the shallow well in Apada, South Sudan

This World Water Day, we celebrate how a shallow well in South Sudan serves a whole community.

“It is a safe space for me and the community — it is a place where we all come together and work together. It belongs to us!” says Rebecca Athiep Akeen of the communal well and its adjacent vegetable garden.

Rebecca is part of a 24-strong committee that built and tend to the garden in Apada, a rural suburb on the outskirts of Aweil town in South Sudan.

A few years ago, JAM and the World Food Programme assisted the community to restore and improve their hand-dug shallow well. At the time it was just a hole in the ground, roughly covered in branches as a safety measure.

With a bit of help, the community members were able to reinforce the structure and build a raised wall on which a metal top could be placed to ensure safety and cleanliness. A simple pulley system was erected and people are now able to pull containers of clean water out of the ground.

A trough was added to prevent wastage of any spills and also to allow the goats and cattle to enjoy a fresh drink.

It didn’t take long for the women in the village to devise a plan for a vegetable garden alongside the functioning water source; it is now worked by 20 women and four men “returnees”, who each take care of a portion.

After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, a lot of people who had fled the violence started returning to their homelands. They came with very little and had to start their lives again.

Rebecca, a 40-year-old single mother, returned from Khartoum with her seven children. She left her husband behind since he “used to drink a lot” and became abusive.

“I used to be angry all the time, but the garden has helped me,” she says with a soft smile.

She explains that JAM has assisted the group with nutritional education, skills training, seeds and implements, such as watering cans, spades and rakes.

The garden, beautifully fenced in thatched mats as is particular to the region, boasts healthy sukuma (collard greens), pumpkin and okra plants that can be harvested for consumption or sale at the market.

“It is also good that we have added some nutritious greens to our diets,” Rebecca says.

World Water Day

Happy place: Rebecca loves the garden

Teresa prays for a late harvest

Teresa prays for a late harvest

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Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

Access to clean water essential in preventing malnutrition

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