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How clean water supply system is improving lives in Yambio

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Luka Peter Mbiiwa, 35, delivering water to his customers in Yambio on September, 30 2023: (Charles Wote/Eye Radio)

Luka Peter Mbiiwa, a cyclist who was displaced by the violent conflict in Tambura County two years ago, has ventured into a water-selling business in Yambio to make ends meet for his family.

Mr Mbiiwa, 35, said the newly constructed UNICEF water supply system in Yambio has made it possible for him to earn income by fetching 20 liters of water at 25 pounds and selling it for 100 South Sudan pounds.

“I came from Tambura; I was displaced there by the violent conflict so when I came to Yambio, I had nothing to do then I decided to resort to fetching water and selling,” Mbiiwa told Eye Radio in an interview in Yambio town.

“If people are many, I can sell up to 50 jerrycans a day. I am selling at 100 pounds; other people also buy at 150 pounds.” he added.

Mbiiwa, a father of six, carries 10 jerry cans per trip and earns between 4,000 and 5,000 South Sudan pounds a day.

This helpes him pay school fees for his children, provide food for his family, and address other family needs.

“This work is helping me provide for my children at home, it is also helping me pay their school fees, put food on the table for the family and our daily needs are also met because of fetching water.”

“I don’t do any other work apart from selling water, it is helping me a lot even paying our rental bill.”

Mbiiwa said he normally leaves home at 6 O’clock in the morning and ride his bicycle to kiosk one located at Baiparu residential area in Yambio town to fetch water.

After filling the ten jerry cans, Mbiiwa rides the 200 liters and distributes to his customers in the other residential areas and market to ensure his family doesn’t go to bed hungry.

He encourages others to embrace casual works to generate income for their families instead of staying idle and unproductive.

“It is good for any person to do something for survival like to sell firewood, to fetch and sell water, to sell charcoal and do any other casual work. If I was to stay without doing water business, you would have heard that I am a thief. Since I came with my children, they are not suffering, they are not sleeping empty stomach.”

“When I fetch and sell water like this, I will take this money and give to my wife and she will buy flour, g/nuts and she will also buy Gadia and we will eat for one to two days after that I will fetch water again just like that, that is what I am doing to survive.”

“I doesn’t feel ashamed for selling water, I doesn’t feel ashamed for selling charcoal because I am doing this to enable my children have better life and also go to school.” Mbiiwa added.

Yambio Water Supply System was inaugurated on September 28, 2023, after being built with donor funding.

It has not only created job opportunities to nearly 40 local vendors but has brought safe and clean drinking water closer to over 45,600 Yambio residents.

Afia John, a 28-year-old resident of Baiparu came in the early hours of September 30, to fetch water for her family at kiosk 1 located few meters away from her home.

She said although the water network has not covered the entire area but believe it has reduced congestion and conflict at the few boreholes they have in the area.

“Before, we were experiencing water shortages in this side of Baiparu, the water sources were not enough because we are many and sometimes conflict used to occur at the boreholes when people are fetching water because the line used to be too long,” Afia said.

“Again, the number of people are many in this area and we used to have less sources of water.”

“So, what you have done to construct more water kiosks in our area is a good idea because it is going to help us a lot though in other sides, it is still not enough but for us here, this is much better then how it used to be before.”

The rehabilitation and expansion of existing water supply system in Yambio funded by the Germany government and implemented by the UN Children’s agency – UNICEF, has the capacity of extracting up to 900,000 liters a day.

It has a drilling depth of 155 meters of the borehole, pump installed depth of 120 meters, static water level under the ground of 2.58 meters and a flow rate of the pump is estimated at 6.8 cubic meters per hour.

“This project is really targeting the women, children and all the people of Yambio so that they are able to get safe drinking water,” Said Hamida Lasseko, the UNICEF Country Representative in South Sudan.

For his part, the head of cooperation and deputy head of Mission at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany said the water project in Yambio, Juba, Torit and Yei is part of their commitment to supply safe and clean drinking water to South Sudanese people.

Ambassador Bjorn Niere adds that his government has allocated 10 million Euros for water projects in South Sudan.

“This is one of our project, the Germany contribution to supply water to South Sudanese people is in the order of 10 million Euros and this facility here in Yambio is one of our projects.”

“So we have other projects in Juba, Torit and Yei.” He told reporters at a site visit in Yambio.

Meanwhile Peter Mahal Dhieu, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation described the new water facility is a hope to the local population in Yambio.

“I can say a new hope for the families in this area of Yambio whereby instead of going for borehole somewhere to collect water which is not safe, you will collect a safe clean drinking water from a facility which has been constructed with funds from Germany and facilitated by UNICEF.” Mahal said.

This is the first time in nearly 50 years Yambio town has received a running water connected to different residential areas, according to the local population.

The newly constructed water kiosks have been placed in different populated areas include Bakindo, Baiparu, Kuzee among others in Yambio town.

Mbiko Samuel, deputy head teacher of St. Mary Primary school in Yambio expressed concern why the water facility has not been installed in schools closer to the water system.

He said St. Mary Primary school alone has about 1,213 students who are depending on one borehole located within the school premises.

“When it is break time or lunch time, all the learners will crowd where the borehole is and sometimes the small one may not get access to the water because they are very many.” Mbiko explains how difficult it is for learners in his school to access safe and clean drinking water.

“In the process of waiting to drink the water, the time can also go whereby the bell will be ringing and all of them will be chased to the class, this is a challenge for us.” He added.

For his part, the Governor of Western Equatoria State, Alfred Futuyo Karaba agrees.

He said he expected churches, health facilities and public places such as markets to be connected with the newly installed water system.

“Water goes together with health, if medicine is in the hospital and water is there, people will be clean and they will wash their hands but I asked the Mayor that did water connected at the hospital and he said no.”

“That means the life of people in these places I have mentioned is still at danger so the water should reach the hospital. You also know that the market accommodates a lot of people and I asked Mayor if the water has been connected to the market and the Mayor say not yet but this is the place contain a lot of people so water should reach there.”

Responding to the concerns, the Managing Director of Yambio Urban Water and Sanitation Company said the kiosks installed in the residential areas are meant for those who cannot afford water connectivity to their residences.

Naumba Alice adds that Yambio Urban Water and Sanitation Company is charging only 25 pounds per 20 liters in each of the kiosks for sustainability purpose.

She is therefore encouraging individuals to submit their requests to her office to enable public water company to connect their residences with water.

“The kiosks are for the poor but most of the houses in Yambio are concrete and need water just in their houses, so we are here to receive your application and start connection.”

“We are charging small money for sustainability that one jerry can is at 25 pounds.”

“Just reserve that one jerry can for drinking water and you will serve a lot of money from going to treat typhoid, this is the target we are aiming at.”




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