By Bida Elly David
Lainya Town Square was crowded on Wednesday to celebrate handover of water supply project donated by International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC).
The water project, in Lainya town, Central Equatoria State, consists of two newly drilled boreholes fitted with solar water pumps.
ICRC coordinator for water and habitat, Alexander Farine said the project covers eight (8) neighborhoods of Lainya town with eight water Kiosks.
“It will provide improved access to clean and safe drinking water to an estimated 5,000–7,500 residents of Lainya town,” Alexandre explained.
Mr. Alexandre noted that the kiosks are located at a walkable distance that is easy and safe for women and children to access.
“Culturally, it is assumed that the responsibilities of fetching for domestic use are purely on women and children, and as such, the kiosks are designated for easy access to all groups, including disabled persons,” he noted.
The coordinator reiterated that the project targets a population that has been directly or indirectly affected by armed conflict in the county.
He noted that the water project will increase the daily water production capacity from 11 cubic meters to 116 cubic meters.
According to the coordinator, the water project started in 2021 with an initial assessment, and construction work kicked off in 2022 with its completion in 2023.
Mr. Alexandre emphases that ICRC, after the handover, shall not be responsible for the management of the project, particularly when it requires repairs.
He said, for the sake of proper management, has established a Lainya water management committee to ensure efficient operation of the water supply.
However, the coordinator did not elaborate on how much it cost them to establish the project, only to say it was to help the vulnerable community.
He said it is upon the community and the authority to see whether to collect some price from the community for the management of the pump.
“The committee will also ensure regular and reliable access to clean water for the inhabitants at an affordable price,” he said.
He said the sunnier it becomes, the more water supply increases, adding that with much sunshine, about 9,000 residents will benefit from the water.
Meanwhile, ICRC head of delegation to South Sudan, Florence Gillette said following the 2016 conflict, Lainya County was one of the affected areas, with a large population displaced.
“Due to the July 2016 crisis, though there were some water sources in Lainya, they became redundant and got spoiled as they were not in use while others were destroyed during the war,” she noted.
“Many people in South Sudan were displaced from their land of origin and went to the bushes and nearby towns, including Lainya, while some of the natives opted to run to refugee camps,” she continued.
She demonstrated the ICRC’s commitment to supporting vulnerable people across South Sudan and urged for the proper use of the water to serve the community.
She appreciated South Sudan Red Cross volunteers for their efforts invested in the success of the project.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Khamis, the commissioner of the county, appreciated the partner’s support.
“We are going to take responsibility as a government to ensure the sustainability of this project,” he stated. “We are going to expand this water network to cover more areas in the town so that it can be able to meet population demands in the town.”
Lainya town resident and one of the beneficiaries, Nyoka Eva appreciated the ICRC’s support, saying it would relieve ladies from covering long distances to fetch water.
“We used to take 30 minutes’ walk to get water from the town to the bushes, and we are now happy that we can wash our clothes, cook, and bathe early to catch up with studies,” Nyoka expressed.
Harriet Roba Joseph, the county women representative, noted that the project will mitigate the risks girls face in covering distances to access water.
She stated that there have been cases of sexual abuse and unexpected pregnancies resulting from forced sex.
“Women have been suffering before the project over sexual harassment and torture in bushes at the hands of thugs, but with this, we are free,” she said.
Matthew Kenyi, the paramount chief of Lainya County, said the water system will help during community events such as funerals, wedding functions, and political events, among others.
He stated that the only challenge will be other villages that will still yearn for such projects since the project is centered within areas close to the town.