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How Access to Water is Improving the Lives of Women and Girls in South Sudan

Published 03/24/2017 by Global Communities

How Access to Water is Improving the Lives of Women and Girls in South Sudan
These stories originally appeared in the USAID South Sudan Newsletter.

Students at St. Paul’s Girls Primary School in Mingkaman, Awerial County, say this USAID-funded latrine has helped boost their confidence and focus on education. Photo: James Jok

The USAID Promoting Resiliency through Ongoing Participatory Engagement and Learning (PROPEL) program, implemented by Global Communities and Catholic Relief Services, is bringing together communities and strengthening their capacity to drive their own development through harnessing their own resources and supporting the implemention projects that address priority needs. These stories highlight how PROPEL is not only addressing the critical needs of adequate water and sanitation in communities, but how they are also providing residents will the skills, knowledge and resources to improve their own lives.

Sanitary Facility Promotes Girls’ Class Attendance and Self-Esteem
To provide protection for girls, increase sanitation and encourage school attendance, USAID supported construction of a latrine in Mingkaman to benefit 300 girls at St. Paul’s Girls Primary School.

Previously, the girls had no option but to use the nearest bush, which exposed them to the risk of sexual assault and caused girls to skip school during menstruation, negatively impacting their education and confidence.
“I would like to thank our community for choosing latrine construction in the school because this will allow girls to come to school and continue with their studies with no obstacle. When we have good sanitary facilities, we are safe from all kinds of risk faced by girls and now we are happy,” said 19-year-old Ayen Mary Garang.

“We did not have confidence in coming to school, we had nowhere to help ourselves and for that we feel very low and see ourselves as hopeless girls,” said 12-year-old Amot Eteny Reng. “Now that we have latrine where we can help ourselves and keep our privacy, we feel confident that our self-worth has been restored and we can even do better in school.”

Pump mechanic Stella Raja helps repair a borehole in her community of Jebel. Photo: Drijaru Vivian
Female Hand Pump Mechanic Challenges Gender Stereotypes
Stella Raja, 32, is the first female water hand pump mechanic/technician in her community, a profession that was viewed as male domain. Raja works in the Jebel community on the outskirts of Juba on a water pump project supported by USAID.

“As a woman, I was being despised by almost everyone that I could not manage to carry those heavy metals. But they started gaining confidence in me after learning that I really can do it just like any other person in the group,” she said.

Empowering Raja helped change her community’s perception of women and their role in society, as she is now considered a role model for other women and girls.

“We thought we could not do the kind of job Raja is doing as we always thought the work is harder to do and it is associated only with men because they are strong,” said Jane Sokale, a 25-year-old community member. “But she has motivated us all and we strongly believe we can also do more than what she is doing today. She is our role model in the community.”