Water Brings Life and Peace in Darfur
by Michelle Scott
"I used to walk three hours to get water," said one woman at the Um Rakhuba water point in South Darfur. Now she doesn't have to walk nearly as long since UMCOR established this water yard which provides sufficient water for the community and its livestock.
A delegation from the US visited Um Rakhuba in June and witnessed something that many in this community could not have imagined even a year ago. We watched as two women made their way through a crowd with containers known in these parts as "jerrycans." They set them down on a shelf below a faucet and watched clean water flow freely into the jugs. They balanced the full jerrycans on their heads and walked past a pen that held a herd of camels and a group of donkeys drinking from a trough. Before this water yard was built, both people and animals drew water from the same trough. But now the water is healthier and more abundant thanks to UMCOR's work in establishing this new water yard with funding from Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church.
The women drew clean, healthy water from within their own community. This is nothing short of a miracle in this part of the world.
Access to water is a major problem in Darfur. "You will see grown men shed tears at the sight of water," says Jane Ohuma, UMCOR Sudan's head of mission. UMCOR is working to improve this situation one community at a time. By the end of 2007, 600,000 people in Darfur will have access to water through new or refurbished water points because of UMCOR's programs.
Access to clean and abundant water completely transforms the life of a community. In Um Rakhuba women and children who once traveled up to eight miles to fetch water now travel a maximum of three. This frees children to go to school and women to take care of their families' other needs. The water from these deep wells is cleaner, making for a healthier and stronger population. When water is scarce, several communities use the same water point, creating competition for a precious resource. Often this is the cause of tension or even conflict between neighboring communities. Now that Um Rakhuba has sufficient water, they are also experiencing more peace.
How You can Help
UMCOR has been working in South Darfur since 2005, providing programs that encourage development such as, agricultural support, skills training, primary school reconstruction and rehabilitation, and water point construction and rehabilitation. Donors wishing to contribute to UMCOR's ongoing ministries in Sudan may mail a check payable to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087, indicating Sudan Emergency Advance #184385 on the memo line.