How can access to water improve community relations?
Ms. Mona Alziber is a medical student living in Al Thawra sector, North Darfur, with her father and three siblings. For years, they did not have access to water in their home as the pipe valve system did not permit the connection. She was forced to pay higher prices for water from private vendors, and her little brothers regularly suffered from illness and diarrhea, which was a threat to their health.
As a result of support provided by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) under the Urban Water for Darfur project, which is funded by UK aid from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Ms. Alziber now has access to water. She said “we could not bathe and clean our houses as often as now because we had to save water and money. We are definitely cleaner now.”
This has also helped to improve the relationship between the community and the government. Before the UNOPS support, the family knew that many other districts had access to water, and felt neglected because they did not have the same. “I am happy that we are treated fairly now”, said Ms. Alziber. The equal access to water is helping to re-establish trust and connections between community members and the government authorities. The UNOPS project team works in close coordination with the State Water Corporations (SWC) and the Urban Water Administration (UWA). Community support for the SWC and the UWA is an essential element of project success.
The Urban Water for Darfur (UW4D) project, funded by UK aid from DFID, has significantly contributed to increased availability and reliability of water sources in the four state capital towns of Darfur: El Fasher (North), Nyala (South), El Geneina (West) and Zalingei (Central). As the second phase of this project, UNOPS, with generous continuous assistance from DFID, is aiming for equity and sustainability of the water supply for the urban and peri-urban areas of El Fasher and Zalingei. The project includes planning, management and maintenance of water supply and service delivery, and expansion of networked water supply to unserved areas.
A total of 7,383 households have benefited from essential maintenance provided under the Urban Water for Darfur project, which allows them weekly access to water in line with other towns in the area. Prior to this support, communities in the area had lost access to water for 3–6 years. This resumption of access to piped water is significant not only for their daily domestic use and hygiene, but also for their economy and the sense of fairness which led to the re-building of their relationship with the State Water Corporation.