Hai Matar, Yei River State, South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on 9th July 2011. The newest nation on earth emerged without paved roads, few doctors, hospitals or schools and an illiteracy rate near 90%. This was true nation-building from the basics of water to the intricacies of government and law.
In December 2013, conflict took place between forces of the government and opposition forces leading to the current civil war. Because of this conflict, wells and committees were abandoned and in need of rehabilitation. Thanks to recent peace initiatives in Yei, many are returning to their communities or making their way into abandoned villages that are closest to where they have had to resettle. Hai Matar is located in the southwestern part of South Sudan, near the international borders of Uganda and the DRC. There is a large presence of government soldiers in this area; typically a busy passthrough, community members are able to collect reasonable fees at this well and are mostly dependent on produce agriculture.
Mary Sadia is the chairperson of Hai Matar Community Water Well. While Mary remained at this well site, many of her family and community members left for a season to seek security when conflict hit close to this area in early 2017. It became very difficult to manage the well without a committee and with so many passing through desperate for water. From spoiled water to no water, the well stopped working completely when the chain broke. For three months, Mary and others had to fetch water from a neighbouring community walking long distances and paying high fees. This became nearly impossible as the money Mary earned was from her vegetable garden. Without water, she could not maintain her garden. Without her garden, she could not earn money for water fees. Since the area has become stable, the well has been repaired, and community members are returning to a functioning source of water and re-establishing a strong well committee. They are proud to take ownership of this well once again. The first maintenance project will be to build a fence around the well to protect it from wildlife and misuse.