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news | June 23, 2014 | South Sudan | Development

Improved links to the private sector empowers South Sudanese communities

Warrap is one of the most under-developed states in South Sudan, and has crisis levels of sanitation and water access. Only 40% of people have access to safe drinking water and the high number of displaced people and returnees further strains the already limited infrastructures. ACTED has been implementing activities in Warrap since 2010, and with the support of the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has made positive in-roads to improving access to water and sanitation infrastructures in the villages in which it has been operating.

As throughout much of South Sudan, boreholes in Warrap State fail due to the inability of the community to repair them. This can be due to a lack of technical capacity, or lack of money to pay for the repair, but more commonly because tools and spare parts are unavailable in local shops and markets. As such, communities are dependent on the provision of spare parts from either the government or humanitarian organisations.

Networking and diffusion of the supply chain workshops

As well as providing training to selected community members on water point operation and maintenance, ACTED is striving to improve the links between communities and local spare parts suppliers through a series of ‘networking and diffusion of the supply chain’ workshops. Through this approach, for any reparation required in the future, local suppliers are aware of where there are water points in their area, and communities are aware of where and how to source the equipment, the cost, and any logistic issues involved.

Kumar, a private sector supplier, said: “It is the first time since I started my business in South Sudan in 2005 that community members come to my shop directly. Before, I used to work only with the government and NGOs. This is the only way to empower the communities to fix the boreholes themselves. Now they know they can call me and we will get the spare parts to their villages”.

Building on ACTED’s expertise

Other water and sanitation actors in the area are now showing great interest in ACTED’s work and are building on ACTED’s expertise. In May, OXFAM Intermon replicated ACTED’s initiative by linking the community they support to the private sector too, following the same principles set up in ACTED’s pilot supply chain project.

A Chief from Tonj North County, said: “I am so thankful to ACTED for showing me the shops for spare parts. I will mobilise my community to contribute the money for the spare parts we need. Now we can repair the borehole ourselves if it breaks”.