Thousands get clean water in South Sudan

Salim Turab oversees the El Ganaya reservoir in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP

Before the development of a new water reservoir in the El Ganaya district of South Sudan, members of the Turab family, often the women, had to trek four hours just to collect enough water to survive.

Some 40 percent of people living in the state do not have access to groundwater through wells or boreholes. They rely on rain water and its run-off between June and December, but for the rest of the year, they must find alternative water sources, sometimes by walking very long distances.


  • A new reservoir has improved water access for over 10,000 South Sudanese, reducing the trip to collect water from four hours to 20 minutes.
  • Reliable water access provides more time for farming and schooling, and has reduced tensions and competition over water supplies.
  • The reservoir is part of a recovery and rehabilitation programme managed jointly by UNDP and the Government of South Sudan.

Today, though, more than 10,000 people in South Sudan have improved access to clean water thanks to a new reservoir built as part of an initiative managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

For the Turab family, the four hour trek to collect water has been reduced to 20 minutes.

“A reliable water resource close to our village means our children will spend less time collecting water and have more time for school,” says Salim Turab, head of the water committee overseeing the reservoir.

“Now villagers won’t have to go in search of water and they will have more time to prepare their land for the next crop”.

The Turab family’s livelihood depends on the sorghum crop they grow on their 10 acres of land. From a good harvest the family accumulates enough food for a year, with a small surplus that can be sold for cash.

UNDP works with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to achieve sustainable human development focused on inclusive growth in order to alleviate poverty and reduce vulnerability to shocks, such as natural disasters and conflict.

The El Ganaya district, where the recently completed reservoir, storage tank and treatment station lie, was hard hit during the north-south civil war from 1983 to 2005. By providing a dependable water flow for area residents and their livestock, the new water infrastructure helps to alleviate local tensions and competition over a previously scarce resource.

The water reservoir is the first of its kind in South Sudan and is part of a recovery and rehabilitation programme managed by UNDP on behalf of the country’s Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan, funded largely by the European Commission.

Other partners include a consortium of non-governmental organizations including Save the Children Sweden, Danish Church Aid, the Nuba Relief Rehabilitation and Development Organisation, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of El Obeid.

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