22 Sep 2022
  • Jale Richard | IOM South Sudan Media and Communications Assistant

Bentiu —Nyaruon Bol vividly remembers the first few months of life in Bentiu IDP camp in South Sudan’s Unity State.

The former United Nations Protection of Civilians (PoC) site was created to shelter civilians fleeing from the devastating civil war that started in December 2013.

The early years of displacement were very hard. Overcrowding in the perimeter fence that shelves the camp meant humanitarian services were not enough for every family. And there was not enough water.

Growing up witnessing the hardships of a displaced population, one thing stuck with her: waiting for water is what stuck.

“We used to wait for water for long hours because the water was being rationed,” recalls the 20-year-old who has lived in the camp for the last eight years.

Nyaruon Bol now walks to one of the water collection points and in no time, returns with her jerrycan full of water. Photo: IOM/Jale Richard.

“Life was hard because there was not enough water and without water, you cannot do much at home.”

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 calls for governments and development partners to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

But access to clean drinking water remains a challenge to many over the world, with at least 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water across the globe.

In South Sudan, only 39 percent of the population has enough water to meet their household needs, dropping to 34 percent in rural areas, according to the 2022 South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview.

The need is especially more in displaced communities that rely on aid agencies for WASH services.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) by supplying clean drinking water as part of its Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) response in Bentiu. 

These supplies have helped residents of the camp to have access to clean water and hygiene services.

“We now have water near us, and we do not have a challenge of water at the moment,” says Nyaruoun while filling her jerrycan at one of the water taps in Sector 3 of the camp. 

Another displaced woman— Angelina Nyaboth lives in Sector 3, Block 5 of Bentiu IDP camp. Her home is a few walks away from one of the water collection points. 

Since she was displaced to the camp in 2014, Angelina has lived in the camp, drinking the water supplied by IOM.

Angelina Nyaboth relies on IOM-supplied water for her household consumption. Photo: IOM/ Jale Richard.

“This water point is very important because it is close to our home,” says Nyaboth. “We always get water when the taps are opened every day. We use this water for drinking, cooking, washing, and other things in the house.”

IOM provides clean water supply in Bentiu IDP camp sectors 2 and 3 reaching up to 49,032 individuals with an average of 17.1 liters per day of water.

Every month, IOM provides 26,035,990 litres of clean drinking water to IDPs in Sector 2 and 3 where its water yard is located.

In newly established displacement sites A, B C for flood-affected people in Bentiu, IOM supplies a daily average of 3,878,00 liters, across the sites from the surface water treatment system and 9 hand pumps giving the per capita consumption across the sites of 6.9 liters per day to 40,229 individuals.

In all these locations, at least more than 89,000 individuals rely on clean and safe drinking water supplied by IOM.

“Provision of clean water supplies is very crucial considering the overcrowded situation here in the IDP camp, we have to ensure the water being supplied is clean and safe for human consumption with the quality conforming to both the national and international standards to avert any outbreak of water borne diseases which are sometimes common in camp settings,” says Sherman Mutengu, IOM WASH Officer in Bentiu.

Sherman Mutengu, IOM WASH Officer in Bentiu. Photo: IOM/Jale Richard.

“That’s why our water supply activities are integrated with Sanitation and hygiene promotion, that aim at promoting the optimal use of facilities and behavior change while empowering communities to be on the lead.”

To continue to ensure compliance of drinking water quality to standards and ensuring water is safe for consumption, IOM conducts routine water quality monitoring through daily Free Residual Chlorine (FRC) checks, along the safe water chain across the IDP sites.

“Our engineers have ensured the water we supply is clean and safe for human consumption, that is why we have been able to contain and prevent some water-borne diseases, Mutengu adds.

One of IOM’s Surface Water Treatment Systems in a newly established displacement site for flood-affected people in Bentiu. Photo: IOM/Jale Richard

IOM’s WASH services are funded by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA), the European Union’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

This story was written by Jale Richard, Media and Communications Assistant, South Sudan