Emergency Support for South Sudan: Safe Drinking Water Urgently Needed

As many as 26,000 people (as of March 14th) have fled from continuous fighting in South Sudan to Kakuma Refugee Camp in neighboring Kenya. This is a report on the relief activities and the refugees’ lives by Daijo TSUCHIKAWA, an AAR staff member of South Sudan Office, who is responsible for humanitarian aid in the Camp.

Daijo TSUCHIKAWA (to the left), an AAR staff, interviewing the refugees.  (March 12th, 2014)
The outbreak of violence in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, in December 2013 saw thousands of civilians killed. As a result, more than 930,000 people have fled from their homes and evacuated to neighboring countries. With the spread of the civil war in South Sudan, the number of refugees is expected to increase (as of March 14th, 2014, according to UNOCHA) .

Kakuma Refugee Camp, which serves approximately 130,000 refugees, was set up in 1992, and AAR has been monitoring and supporting this Camp as of this February. With the drastic increase in the number of refugees from South Sudan since December 2013, this Camp is close to exceeding its capacity. There is a shortage of daily necessities, such as water, food, tents, and clothes ; the need for water is the most urgent.

Torrential rains have prevented  UN organizations from delivering drinking water to Kakuma Refugee Camp by water truck. As the result there are shortages of safe drinking water and more and more people in the Camp are being forced to drink the water from dirty puddles. There is  growing concern about the worsening of  sanitary conditions within the Camp.

After a long journey, refugees arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp exhausted, to find there was no place to rest - all the tents were flooded. They had to relocate to another place.  (March 14th, 2014)
In collaboration with  UN organizations and other international NGOs, AAR is currently planning to build a water supply system to provide the refugees with a regular supply of safe drinking water. In order to prevent future water shortages AAR plans to link a well (approximately 5km northeast of the refugee camp) to a nearby water tank (approximately 0.5km from the Camp). This will allow the refugees at the Camp to obtain a safe supply of water even during the toughest conditions. A 4.5km water pipe will stretch between the well and the water tank. . This will greatly reduce the distance which refugees in the Camp need to travel to procure safe drinking water and will prevent shortages caused by weather conditions. We plan to construct the pipe in time to provide safe drinking water to the refugees in the Camp during the rainy season, which will begin in April.

Because of the torrential rains, all the roads were muddy, making it impossible for a water truck to reach the Camp.


Voice of a refugee:  “A Friend Fleeing With Me Was Shot Dead”

Ms. Martha Thod (25). Her husband died in June 2013. Her three children, who cannot be reached yet, are still in South Sudan. Martha lives with her brother in the Camp.
“After my husband’s death, I had to support my mother and my three children, so I was living alone in Juba, about a 2-hour drive from home. I made my living by selling tea to passers-by. The fighting in the capital, Juba, broke out all of a sudden last December. Neither my mother nor my children had a cell phone, so there was no way of contacting them. I had no choice but to flee. Seeing militiamen assault our neighborhood, my friend and I took shelter on the premises of an UN organization. On the way, my friend, who was beside me, was killed by a stray bullet. I believe my mother and my children must be safe, but I still don’t know whether they have survived or not.”
“I’m not going to return to South Sudan. I would like my children to come to Kakuma Refugee Camp. I want to start my own business and have my children educated in Kenya.

Inside the tent where Martha lives with her brother; They sleep on a mat laid on the ground. What you can see in the center of the picture is all her belongings. (November 24th, 2013)

Daijo TSUCHIKAWA joined AAR Tokyo Office in October 2012 and coordinated AAR’s projects in both Kenya and South Sudan. As of April 2014, he has been stationed in our office in South Sudan and has presided over projects concerning the drilling of wells. Furthermore, he is also currently in charge of supporting Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.