Returning to better facilities in South Sudan

Displaced communities are returning home to South Sudan and getting the support they need to access clean drinking water and toilets, as Eliza tells us.

Eliza was born and raised in the slums of Khartoum and, like many, has just returned to South Sudan with her family. "Life has been so hard for us," she says, "My dad died a few years back and all I have are my six siblings and mother." She and her family live in a small hut made from sticks, mud and grass. It has no safe drinking water, kitchen, toilet or washing facilities. This is a common situation for many families in South Sudan. Currently only 34% have access to safe water supplies and just 15% can access adequate sanitary latrines. These are the lowest service coverage statistics in the world.

From the way station to setting up home

"When we first arrived, we stayed at the way station where water, shower rooms and toilets were easily available, and that helped us a lot," Eliza said. The Malakal way station is supported by UNICEF and its partners, who provide emergency water tanks and latrine construction kits. And hand out jerry cans, soap, water purification tablets and hygiene and sanitation cleaning kits to the people who are passing through.

They're also going into returnee communities to help set up safe water and sanitation facilities. That includes training on the importance of owning and using a latrine to promote healthy living and bring dignity and protection, especially to women. Eliza says that now that her family has returned and are no longer in the way station they are digging their own latrine. "It's important to have a latrine in the house," she says. "I'm tired of having to go to the neighbours to ease myself especially at night when I feel unsafe to go outside."

Helping communities find their own solutions

UNICEF specialist Sarla Varma is optimistic about the Community Approached to Total Sanitation (CATS) programme. "It ignites a change in sanitation behaviour in rural communities," she says. "The community is empowered through participatory approaches to find solutions for their inadequate sanitation and put an end to open defecation."

Our latrine and shower room is almost complete,"" says Eliza smiling. "We have come a long way from Khartoum but we are home now and are grateful for the help we have received along the way."

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