In the world’s youngest country, years of civil unrest have displaced large segments of the population. The United Nations estimates that there are 1.75 million internally displaced people (IDP) in South Sudan.

As the conflict enters its fifth year, the humanitarian crisis is only getting worse. Ongoing violence and sustained economic decline have left people with less ability to weather threats to their health, safety and livelihoods.

The displacement of such large groups of people has led to high prevalence of waterborne disease due to poor and unequal access to safe water and sanitation services.

In response, PWS&D is implementing a water and sanitation project through fellow ACT Alliance member, Norwegian Church Aid. Working with those who have been displaced, as well as the vulnerable communities who are hosting them, the project will support the elderly, child-headed homes, pregnant and lactating mothers, people with disabilities and extremely poor individuals.

To improve the quality and access to safe drinking water, 20 existing water points will be repaired so they are usable. Communities will also receive support and training on hygiene and sanitation issues, including how to help prevent the spread of waterborne disease.

In South Sudan, where conflict has been ongoing for five years, accessing water can often be dangerous for women and girls.
Credit: Paul Jeffrey

Widespread illness is just one of the many consequences of ongoing conflict. Gender-based violence is also an issue of great concern. In South Sudan there has been a serious escalation of violence against women—ranging from rape to demands of sex for food and the increased prevalence of child marriage.

These risks can be exacerbated particularly when it comes to accessing water and sanitation services. As such, gender-based violence prevention has been integrated as an important component of PWS&D’s water and sanitation project.

By placing water and sanitation points in areas that are safer and more accessible to women, the project is helping to decrease gender-based violence. Women are involved in the planning and implementation of the project—allowing them to advocate for themselves.

Women of reproductive age will also receive targeted hygiene kits with washable sanitary pads, underwear, soap and other sanitary equipment to ensure that they have the supplies they need when menstruating, mitigating the need to have to go to potentially unsafe areas to access supplies.