This morning a young woman in New York City rolls out of her bed and makes her way to her bathroom sink to brush her teeth. She turns her shower knob off as she hops out of the shower and into her clothing for the day. She heads to work but not before heading to her kitchen sink to rinse off the apple she eats everyday as a snack. With every turn of every faucet throughout her day she has no idea of the luxury she is being afforded.
But a young woman in South Sudan has a very different experience when her need for water finds her each day. It requires almost 1,000 liters of water a day to cook for her family, wash their clothing, and bathe them. But this amount of safe water is very difficult to come by for most South Sudanese families. About half of the population of South Sudan does not have access to clean water. Many families must rely on designated water tanks to bring water to their villages and the water is often unfiltered and haboring diseases. And there are some days when the water tanks don't come at all. The South Sudanese capital of Juba has had its population of around 60,000 in 2005 rise to 400,00 in 2011. The city has not been able to accommodate the drastic population increase.
In other areas where there is no water at all, the residents are faced with many hardships. Millions of South Sudanese, usually women and children, must walk many miles to collect water from ponds, marshes, ditches, and wells. In underdeveloped countries like South Sudan, about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is linked to a water-related disease. Each sip of unclean water has the potential to lead to devastating illness. Most of these diseases aren't likely to be found in developed countries because of the sophisticated water systems that filter and chlorinate water to eliminate all disease carrying organisms. But typhoid fever, cholera and many other diseases still run rampant in parts of the world that do not have the same resources as Western territories.
According to a study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, any water from the public water works is used exclusively for government buildings, forcing citizens to seek out other water sources. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has launched a $40 million project to increase the water treatment capacity in Juba by 50%. While the project is only in its beginning stages, once it is finished, another 350,000 people will have easier access to clean water.
Although there are quite a few organizations that are working toward bringing safe drinking water to South Sudan, the fight is far from over. Every day hundreds of children are still dying from illnesses like diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera to due unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions. As part of a worldwide initiative to end to hunger,dehydration, and disease, getting safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services to communities is essential. Clean and safe drinking water is imperative for living a healthy life. In areas where safe, clean water is abundant, education and economic development can be found in abundance as well. Clean water fosters hope, health, and freedom. It can nourish a nation and preserve a culture. Washing away the remnants of war, water can create a new beginning for the people of South Sudan.