UNICEF and ECHO bring clean drinking water to villagers in Sudan's Nuba Mountains

By Thomas Nybo

21 February 2006 (UNICEF)

© UNICEF video
Children in the Nuba Mountains used to spend many hours each day fetching clean water.

For people living in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, central Sudan, getting enough clean water has long been a difficult task. Working with ECHO, the European Community’s Humanitarian Aid Department, UNICEF has turned the situation around, building and rehabilitating the region’s water system to ensure more than 110,000 people have access to safe drinking water.

Many areas of the region have been affected by conflict which makes fetching water not only difficult but dangerous too. On top of that the existing water sources are inadequate -- many are equipped with hand pumps that are barely functional.

The joint effort started with rehabilitation of some 200 hand pumps. Fifty new boreholes have been drilled and equipped with brand new hand pumps. Most of boreholes are built with concrete basins to collect spilled water, which can then be used for cleaning, gardening and the watering of livestock.

More time for education

© UNICEF Sudan/2006
Children try a new hand pump installed by UNICEF and ECHO.

"Now my children have plenty of time for other activities,” says Ajuba El Zubier Mala, a mother of six. “In the morning, they collect water to bathe. Then they go to school. After school, they get more water and sometimes bring our small animals to the pump to give them water."

Having plenty of water hasn’t made residents of Nuba Mountains forget about the hardships they once endured. When water was scarce, many women and girls had to carry the burden of collecting water for the families. Many girls missed out their education because they had to spend many hours each day fetching water.

Clean water is also crucial to keep children and adults healthy. Mothers like Ajuba know all too well about ailments like diarrhoea and Guinea Worm disease, which are caused by unsafe water. Since the completion of the water project, few waterborne diseases have been reported across the region.

Water project continues

© UNICEF Sudan/2006
With adequate water sources, children can spend more time on education.

UNICEF and ECHO also conducted training sessions for local residents. About 300 people, half of them women, have gone through the training sessions and learnt how to maintain and operate the water pumps. Courses are also given to help children and families develop good hygiene practices. Nearly 500 people have been informed so far on how to prevent Guinea Worm disease.

"One hand pump serves about 500 people, which is a very great number,” explains Sulieman Hamad, Deputy Director of Water, Environment and Sanitation Project for the Government of South Kordofan. “We want to reduce this number to 250 because beside the communities we have animals. We must water them from these facilities."

UNICEF and ECHO continue to bring clean water to more children and families. In Blue Nile State, eastern Sudan, 50 new wells were drilled and equipped with hand pumps, while another 50 hand pumps were rehabilitated. Since the project began, more than 200,000 people have benefitted from the efforts of UNICEF and ECHO so far.


The Nuba Mountains Homepage was made by Nanne op 't Ende.
You can contact me here.