Africans gathered in a circle
CLTS (Community Led Total Sanitation) workers have gathered for a training in Mapetet.

Water for Eastern Equatoria (ProWaS/SSN-EES)

Working in a conflict zone – How to secure water and food in South Sudan

Water resource management project in war-torn South Sudan is a good example of NIRAS’ capacity to work successfully even under challenging and rapidly changing conditions.

What started as a long-term development project, turned partly into an emergency relief as conflict in South Sudan re-escalated. Even though the focus is still on improving water infrastructure and sanitation facilities, the project has gotten a new mandate to develop quick impact interventions for the most urgent needs: insufficient food production and the lack of income. According to FAO, millions of people were in an urgent need of food in South Sudan in 2017.

This dual approach makes it a unique development project as it integrates emergency interventions with long-term sustainable development of natural resources.

The project improves water and food security in four ways:

  1. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) for the Kenneti Watershed: Strengthen institutions, stakeholders and systems at all levels for joint integrated and sustainable management of water resources (setting up hydrometeorological monitoring system, water model, river basin strategy, promote participation in local water management committees, promote appropriate land use practices).
  2. Productive use of water: E.g. Water harvesting systems; training local authorities and communities on productive use of water; investments in livelihoods that are not harmful to water sources.
  3. Safe water and improved sanitation in rural areas: Using the private sector to drill boreholes equipped with hand pumps; constructing school toilets (emphasis on girls’ right to menstrual health); and hygiene education at community and school level.
  4. Quick and medium-term interventions to improve food security and livelihood: Breeding and fattening of goats, sheep, cattle and pigs; increasing stable food crop production; chickens for bringing income and food with little effort; beekeeping; improving small businesses through Business Development Advisers. (These interventions are cross cutting in relation to the above three components)

Working in a conflict zone means that a robust security plan needs to be in place: The team was successfully evacuated in July 2016 when fighting erupted. Later on they were able to return to South Sudan to resume the project.

Ongoing conflict puts constraints on the everyday activities of the project.

Water harvesting systems help to get through severe droughts

For instance, after July 2016 it was too dangerous to drive freely between different project locations.

The solution is to use a more localized approach in counties where the NIRAS team cannot be physically present: This is done by working with a more direct engagement with end-users, community-based organizations, county administrations and local NGOs. These stakeholders now take a larger role in carrying out activities, which further builds their capacity and makes the project outcome more sustainable.

Number of people that received access to improved drinking water in 2016.


Number of people that received access to improved sanitation in 2016


Number of people directly benefiting from improved river basin management in 2016