JICA mulls new water project in South Sudan

JICA mulls new water project in South Sudan
An underground water pumping system being installed in Juba (photo credit: Pumps Africa)

The Japanese government is set to launch a new technical cooperation project in South Sudan by early 2022 to improve water supply to the citizens.

The project is also meant to build the capacity of the South Sudan Water Urban Cooperation (SSWUC) staff to ensure effective management of water supply, particularly in Juba City.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation signed a record of discussion on Tuesday for the project that ends in 2025.

The project is expected to start in March next year.

 “We recognise that water is very essential to the people of South Sudan and that this grant aid project is long-awaited for the people of Juba City,” said JICA Chief Representative, Fuyuki Sagara, at the signing ceremony of the project yesterday.

“While its construction is well programmed now, we will also collaborate closely through this technical cooperation project to improve the capacity of operation and management for water supply.”

JICA water project cooperation in the South began in 2012, and was intended to be completed in a few years, but was interrupted twice by the December 2013 and July 2016 wars.

According to the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, more than half of the country’s population still has no access to safe and clean drinking water, while only about 40 per cent of the urban population has it.

It remains a paradox that Juba residents still drink raw River Nile water, supplied by water tankers, making them susceptible to water-borne diseases, despite living on the shores of the world’s longest river.

“In addition, clean drinking water supply is important for the improvement of sanitation, which leads to the prevention of infectious diseases. I think this is still one of the most important elements of human security in South Sudan, ” said Mr Sagara.

The government of Japan, through JICA, will further extend the grant aid for the construction of a one-year new water system project in Juba City to be completed in 2023.

In his remarks, the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, commended the government and people of Japan for extending more support to the people of South Sudan.

Government promises support

Mr Manawa underlined the lack of access to safe and clean water in the country and promised the government’s endeavour to support the clean drinking water project in South Sudan.

“Just 40 per cent of our people have access to safe and clean drinking water [and this] is behind our target as set out in the South Sudan Urban Water Cooperation strategic plan.”

“At this point, we should have provided water to more than 75 per cent of our population so that they could drink safe and clean water,” Manawa said.

“I want to assure you of the government’s commitment that after we finish phase one of the project, we will avail the necessary funds to support the urban water cooperation to operate and to continue providing services to the people of South Sudan,” he added.