Diatoro village where women trek over 10 km to access clean water

Diatoro village where women trek over 10 km to access clean water
Joselyn Angelo, a mother of six from Diatoro village, fetching water from a manual water pump.

Joselyn Angelo, a mother of six from Diatoro village in Western Equatoria State’s Yambio County, has a packed daily routine. Unlike her urban counterparts who have the luxury of accessing water at their doorsteps, Angelo has to spend at least four to five hours per day fetching water to wash her clothes, cook food and bathe her children.

The venture of traversing villages for the precious commodity takes more than half of her productive hours.

She jumps on her bicycle and rides for more than four hours to get to the borehole. After this, she goes through another circle of endurance of having to line up and fill her jerrycans with water before cycling another four hours home.

She is one of the women who go the extra mile of sacrificing their time and safety to perform a task that is more daunting when the water sources are unclean and far away from their houses.

“Before this borehole was constructed I took up to four to five hours because I went to the well, waited for the water table to rise and that would take a lot of time,” said Angelo as she held a jerrycan in one hand and dashed off to the water point.

The burden of quenching thirst  

The women of Yambio are generally burdened with the task of providing water for their families. Many treks for up to 10 kilometres each day, carrying up to 40 litres of water with them.

Angelo’s children were constantly exhausted by the trip heading to the borehole and back.

They were often thirsty for water; which never arrived on time.

“The children would become thirsty and cry out for water. When I got home, the children were begging for water,” she narrates.

Her tribulations are similar to what another couple in the same village underwent.

Jean Estella, 27, and her husband Biyo are among the more than 400 people in Diatoro village who have had to endure the problems stemming from the lack of water.

“We were drinking dirty water especially when it rained,” says Estella.

“All the dirt goes to the river and the wells and we [got] a lot of illnesses. Diarrhoea cases were very high when the borehole was not yet constructed.’’

Estella fetched water from the village’s solitary borehole, located more than 8 kilometres away from their house. The pressure of quenching thirst and having water flowing at home deprived them of the much-needed time to work and take care of their children.

“Before we used to get water from the wells, just from the River Uza. We faced a lot of challenges because the river Uza was very far,” said Biyo.

Biyo says the challenges of getting water were not just limited to access but also distance and worst still very time-consuming.

“It was very difficult for me those days because the water was very far,” says Estella. Even cooking food for the people in time would not happen because going to fetch water to cook the food took us hours.’’

“Sometimes family members could go without food because fetching water from the water point was time-consuming. “The water was very far and during the dry season, I would accompany my wife to get the water because it was very far. That took a lot of time,” added Biyo.

Families save time on more productive tasks when they have quick access to clean water.

The struggle to find water is a daily battle for women like Estella, as it is for many women throughout South Sudan.

Women are frequently in charge of locating resources that their families require for survival, such as water for drinking, cooking, sanitation, and hygiene. They may have to stand in line for water or trek long distances for water.

But this changed for Angelo, Biyo, and his wife after the International Aid Service brought a borehole closer to their home.

“There is a big change, now we can get water easily and the neighbours can also get water very easily, there is a big change.

“I am very happy because the water is very close to my house,” said Stella.

Estella no longer requires her husband’s assistance to collect water now that clean water is closer to their house. Her husband can now focus on farming and knows he will come home to ready meals prepared with clean water and a bath in clean water after work.

“We used to get water from very far,” she said. During the dry season it was even more difficult because they would wait for the water to trickle down, we were getting challenges cooking food for the children. With a borehole close to home, I now take just one hour to bring water home.”