Only 34% of South Sudanese have access to clean water according to statistics from South Sudan’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, leading to various diseases such as diarrhea that can cause death, especially among vulnerable groups. The solar powered water systems installed as part of this project can support the clean water requirements of a larger number of people than a conventional hand pump, as well as enough water for gardening initiatives.
This project also addresses food insecurity. Multinational institutions and governments, such as the UN, have recognized food security as one of the greatest challenges facing the people of South Sudan. According to the South Sudan IPC, it is estimated that 3.5 million South Sudanese people will face crisis-level food insecurity and another 2 million will be food stressed in 2015. Additionally, OHCA reports an estimated 235,000 children are currently suffering from acute malnutrition. With an average of 59% of household expenditures going to food purchases, increased food security is crucial for both the daily survival and the long term development of the people of South Sudan.
The solar powered water technology and cross-cutting approach of water, agriculture, and building local capacities are innovative in the context in which Obakki works. At the Foundation, innovation is viewed as a new activity that builds upon already existing technologies and capacities of local communities. The garden solar powered water systems program is an example of this as it incorporates the graduation system approach to better allow communities to take ownership and provide feedback into program activities. Rather than having Obakki Foundation staff approach communities and tell them what to do, the project values community input and aims to incorporate community ownership of the programs for sustainable impact. This is evident in our approach as five communities already engaged in gardening activities were identified and then further trained on water system technologies by in-country staff, increasing their existing capabilities.
Another example includes adding bikes into the project to tailor program outcomes to community needs. Participants of the program noticed there was a large gap in transporting produce and crops from the garden areas where the solar water systems resided to market. To fill this challenge, community members suggested adding bikes and biking routes into the program approach. Conversations and feedback from local individuals such as this has tangibly allowed the program to adapt and adjust to best benefit existing capacities in partnered gardening communities.