Improve lives of vulnerable women
By Judith Omondi
Before a new borehole was installed in their village, the women of Adokhol community did not have much time for basic personal grooming. For them, fetching water was virtually a fulltime occupation, for which they walked long distances with jerry cans on their heads, especially in the dry season when local streams dried up.
With so little water available at the household level, taking a regular bath was considered a luxury for residents, leading to frequent outbreaks of diseases related to poor hygiene. “The biggest problem is that we did not bathe. We took long to bathe. When we got water, we prioritized drinking, washing utensils and cooking, ”explains Mary Ayien, one of the four women in the local User Group Committee, established to control the use and maintenance of the new borehole
This situation changed when the Local Governance and Service Delivery Project (LGSDP) began to implement its activities in the former Twic County of Warrap in 2015. The project, locally known as LOGOSEED is a Government programme that seeks to improve local governance and service delivery in South Sudan.
With the improved access to the water for the community’s over 400 households, incidences of infectious diseases and other domestic challenges have considerably reduced, according to the residents. “Our lives have changed,” says Mary Achel Akok, also member of the user group committee. “Previously we were drinking dirty water from the river. In the dry season, even the dirty water was not available. We had to walk to the next village to find water.”
With the extra time in their hands, local women have taken to vegetable farming using the borehole water for irrigation, a welcome relief in a place, which suffers severe droughts and food shortages during the six-month dry season. The gardening has significantly improved the local food security situation, with approximately 44 women growing their favourite vegetables such Okra and Kudra for their household use. “When there was no borehole, we ate asida (sorghum paste) without any sauce,” says Eliza Arial, one of the garden users. Others use the additional time to clear more land to to grow and harvest more sorghum, their staple.
The vegetable gardens planted by the women
The Adokhol borehole is one out of the 37 so far implemented by LOGOSEED in the former counties of Twic and Gogrial West in the Warrap area. LOGOSEED has funded other small infrastructure projects, including 20 boreholes, 2-classroom blocks in 6 schools; 2 Primary Health Care Units (PHCUs); one market structure; one community road and a flood-prevention dyke. In Gogrial West, the projects include 17 boreholes, classroom blocks in 12 schools; 3 PHCUs and 2 school latrines.
Through LOGOSEED activities, credibility in the Government is increasing. Deng Malek, a community mobilizer in Wunrok Payam – Twic, remarks that the community was initially reluctant to participate due to the lack of trust on the ability of government to deliver. “They called us liars. They said they had been cheated before,” says Malek observing that this attitude only changed with consistent consultations and evidence of community priorities being implemented. “I wish the government would put all its development funds into something like this,” he adds. “LOGOSEED works directly with the grassroots. In the past money was just being allocated randomly from Juba. There was no accountability. They lost a lot of money.”
Judith Omondi is the Community Engagement Specialist – Local Governance and Service Deliver Project (LGSDP/LOGOSEED)
By Judith Omondi