Water is Life: A look at how a rehabilitated water treatment plant is helping women and girls

August 1, 2017

By Nina Devries

Location: Bentiu Town, South Sudan

In South Sudan, water supply and hygiene services have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict. It’s estimated just under half of the population have access to clean water. Many women and girls are often forced to walk long distances to access water. But a rehabilitated water treatment plant is already making a difference for them.

July 2017- Bentiu Town, South Sudan.UNICEF/Ellie Kealey

Through an initiative, funded by USAID, UNICEF and partners are working to improve the lives of people in Bentiu, South Sudan. The town’s water treatment plant was looted and damaged in 2014 due to the ongoing civil war. It was rehabilitated and upgraded in May 2016. It produces 500,000 litres per day of safe, clean treated water.

7th July, 2017, Bentiu Town, South Sudan. UNICEF/Ellie Kealey

The water is being pumped to 24 water points across the city. The focus in this first phase of the urban water program is to ensure children have access to safe water at home, at school and in public places.

7th July 2017, Machakos Primary School, Bentiu Town, South Sudan. UNICEF/Ellie Kelley

Angelina Nyakuma is a mother of six. She used to fetch water from the river and says it would take about two hours. A snake once bit her while she was trying to collect water. She still suffers to this day from the bite.

7th July, 2017 Machokos Primary School,Bentiu Town,South Sudan, UNICEF/Elllie Kealey

Now, with the water treatment plant fully operational, a water point at the Machakos Primary school near her house has been restored and Angelina can access clean water.

7th, July 2017, Bentiu Town, Machakos Primary School,South Sudan UNICEF/Ellie Kealey

Angelina is thrilled that now she can access water close by and where her children also attend school.

7th, July 2017, Bentui, Machakos Primary School South Sudan
UNICEF/Ellie Kealey

Unsafe water puts people at increased risk for waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. When 15 year old student Mary Nyakuma Peter’s sister died from a water borne disease she was devastated. She’s grateful there’s clean water now available at her school, but wishes it had come sooner.

7 July, 2017 Kochthei Camp, Bentiu, South Sudan, UNICEF/Ellie Kealey

Nyahok Yar is a disabled woman living at the Kochthei camp for displaced people. She use to travel up to two hours a day to collect water. Now the water is accessible in the centre of the camp and she can fetch it with her children daily. It takes her only a few minutes, making it possible for her to make the journey several times a day.

7th July 2017, Kochthei Camp, Bentiu Town, South Sudan, UNICEF/Ellie Kelley
7th July 2017 Bentiu Town Hospital, South Sudan. A doctor provides safe drinking water to a patient .UNICEF/Ellie Kealey

The Bentiu hospital is also now receiving clean, safe water thanks to the rehabilitated water treatment plant.  This water helps prevent further illness with patients who are admitted. Especially as the hospital is now getting more patients with diseases like malaria due to the rainy season.


Across the country UNICEF has supported 483,912 people to access safe water and over 174,569 internally displaced people and host community members have received access to safe sanitation facilities.