No more dirty river drinking water for community in Sudan

Kaka, a remote village along the Nile River, long suffered from problems with unsafe drinking water. But a community water filter installed by World Vision is changing lives for residents of this area.

By Abraham Nhial, World Vision Sudan. Edited by Peter Warski, World Vision U.S.
Published July 11, 2011 at 12:00am PDT

Sadia Odhong, 37, is no stranger to dirty water. She used to acquire her family's drinking water straight from the Nile River — with no filtration or treatment of any kind.

Like most rural villages in this part of Africa, contaminated water is a serious problem in Kaka. The absence of life's most basic resource creates disease and a vicious cycle of poverty. Waterborne illness, such as diarrhea, is common among children under age 5.

But change came to the struggling village with World Vision's construction of a community water filter.

'As clear as mineral water'

For residents like Sadia, it's a simple solution for a complex problem. "This water tastes better compared to the dirty Nile water. It is as clear as mineral water," she says.

She explains that the filter has reduced the incidence of diarrhea among children and provided near-universal access to clean water in the community. The biggest challenge now, she says, is finding a space at the filter with all the demand for it.

And with the personal hygiene and sanitation training that World Vision provided to villagers — such as proper garbage disposal, use and maintenance of latrines, and cleaning of water storage containers — the overall health of this place is greatly improved.

An easy method produces a remarkable improvement

The system works by providing a location where villagers can pour their collected water into a reservoir for processing. The water travels through a charcoal filter, which removes potentially harmful impurities, and can be retrieved from taps that surround the filter.

"When the community wants to get safe, clean water, they just fetch dirty water from the river and pour it into the water filter," explains Paul Otto, a World Vision engineer. "It is very effective in removing the bacteriological and suspended particles from the water."

Otto also notes that the charcoal element never needs to be replaced during the lifespan of the filter, which can be up to five years with proper maintenance. To achieve this, World Vision trains a group of community members to manage the filtration system and make repairs as needed.

Sadia collects water from the Nile River. Thanks to the World Vision project in her village, she no longer needs to consume this dirty water without purifying it. Photo: ©2010 Abraham Nhial/World Vision

"When we construct water filters, we sensitize the community by forming water filter committees," says Otto. "We select eight members — four women and four men, who are responsible for maintenance and operation of the water filters."

A regional initiative

The water filter in Kaka is one of nearly 30 such purification systems that World Vision has installed in Southern Sudan's Upper Nile state. The filters are situated in easily accessible locations close to the Nile River, and each one can provide safe water to about 1,000 families.

Clean water and sanitation are main priorities in World Vision's global community development efforts. Access to these basic resources help significantly reduce disease, infant mortality, and chronic poverty, while improving school attendance and economic development.

"We stopped drinking dirty Nile water immediately after the construction of the filter," says Sadia, an outspoken beneficiary of World Vision's project. "I take four buckets of water to my house every day. This filter has changed our lives."

Three ways you can help

Please pray for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who lack access to a clean, safe source of water. Thank God for the generous World Vision supporters who make possible projects like this one in Southern Sudan. Pray that many more communities will be transformed by the gift of clean water.

Make a one-time gift to World Vision's Water and Sanitation Fund. Your donation will help us continue to provide safe, clean water and sanitation through projects like digging wells, installing purification equipment, providing storage containers, conducting hygiene training, and more.

Give monthly to support our clean water projects around the world. Your monthly gift will help us bring this essential resource to even more communities in great need.