Where We Work

More about South Sudan

South Sudan is a large country, just a little smaller than the U.S. state of Texas in total area. The country is located south of the Sahara Desert and experiences distinct wet and dry seasons. During the dry season, the northern part of South Sudan – where we were working – possesses a semi-desert climate. There is almost no rainfall and temperatures often reach 110°F (43°C). During the rainy season, on the other hand, extensive flooding occurs.

Although South Sudan has great potential for the future, at the present time it has very limited resources. The people are impoverished and lack many of the basic necessities of life. One in seven children does not reach his/her first birthday due to disease and poor nutrition. Food and other supplies are limited due to the absence of paved roads within most of the country, resulting in an inability to transport many goods. In addition, the country has a literacy rate of about 17%, although this situation is gradually improving with the younger generation.

Because many residents of South Sudan do not have a basic understanding of a number of health and nutrition issues, one of our main areas of service was in health/nutrition education for pregnant and nursing mothers in order to address the growth, survival, and overall health of children and families. This instruction included not only nutritional requirements, but also hygiene, waste disposal, disease control and treatment, and many other topics. For malaria control, we also provided insecticide-treated bed nets to our most vulnerable mothers and children.

Due to a lack of water during the dry season, a very significant liability, our second area of service involved WASH (water-sanitation-hygiene) projects, consisting primarily of well rehabilitation and installation of new hand pumps. In addition, since drinking water sources are also used for livestock, it was important to segregate the livestock from the hand pumps due to the potential for contamination of the groundwater by animal waste. This was done by fencing the hand pump platforms and providing channels to watering troughs where the animals could drink, but away from the areas used by humans.

Finally, because women are responsible for almost all activities needed for the daily care of their families, they have very little free time for other pursuits. As a result, our final primary area of service was to provide labor-saving skills to women that would empower them to do other things. For example, women used to spend considerable time gathering wood to make cooking fires. Instead, we provided instruction in making fuel efficient stoves, which stay hot for two days, out of local clay. We also furnished training, vegetable seeds, and garden tools (along with the water sources mentioned above) that the women used to establish community nursery gardens, from which they later transplanted vegetable seedlings to their home gardens. In addition, about 15,000 tree seedlings, including grafted mango, paw-paw (papaya), and cassia (fuel wood), were given to our women's groups to plant at their residences.

Although GERI's involvement with this project was in the capacity of a consulting project manager, the project goals and activities were very much in line with our mission and vision. The environmental conditions in South Sudan make meeting the physical needs, lives, and livelihoods of the poor, the marginalized, and the powerless extremely challenging. Our activities to help in South Sudan are yet another example of why GERI was created. For additional photos of our work in South Sudan, please see our Facebook album.