AfDB stands by South Sudan and approves €6-million grant for Resilient Water Project for Improved Livelihoods in Juba

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The livelihoods of some 230,000 people in Juba, South Sudan, will be improved thanks to a key water project approved on July 14, 2016 by the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) in the form of a grant of €6.3 million. The project will also strengthen efficient utility operations, private sector participation and women’s empowerment.

The “Resilient Water Project for Improved Livelihoods in Juba” aims to provide improved equitable access to sustainable water supply in Juba and improve water system functionality. This will translate into an increased percentage of Juba residents accessing town water supply services (from 25 to 35%, including 16% women). The number of residents in Juba with access to a reliable piped water supply will jump from 92,000 to 322,000 at project completion in 2020. The project will result in reduced incidences of water-borne diseases in the capital city of South Sudan, cutting down the current number by a factor of four (from 838/100,000 to 251/100,000). It will also reduce by 20% under-five mortality rate whilst increasing primary school enrolment, especially for the girl child, with a targetted 95% enrolment rate by 2020. Regarding gender, the project will support a 30% targeted participation of women and youth in the management of the water schemes. Women and youth will be trained in the management of the public stand pipes and water kiosks. The project will support a minimum of 10% women, and 10% youth employment in the labour-intensive infrastructure development activities on the water supply infrastructure construction. The project will also support capacity development by ensuring 30% of trained customers in leakage detection are women, and will require 20% of staff of the South Sudan Urban Water Corporation trained in strengthening utility operations to be women.

“I commend the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group for its courageous approval. This comes against the backdrop of recent violent conflicts in Juba. By supporting this project, Board members have reaffirmed AfDB’s commitment to keep operations in fragile states which have the tendency to oscillate between conflict and peace,” said Mohamed El Azizi, Water and Sanitation Director. “The AfDB is indeed committed to effectively assist countries in fragile situations, post-crisis and post-conflict transition to transit out of fragility and move forward towards more stable political and economic development.”

Juba, like many urban centres in South Sudan, has been affected by many years of under investment and inadequate maintenance of its water infrastructure. The armed conflict in the country has not only left all infrastructure in ruin, but has also led to massive rural-to-urban migration, creating camps of internally displaced people in the city. This is putting further strain on the already weak and overloaded infrastructure. The current water system is only able to serve about 25% of the population with piped water. The available water tankers have limited filling stations, leaving the bulk of the remaining 75% of the population to fetch raw water directly from the Nile. The existing infrastructure, constructed in 1937, is very old, and long overdue for rehabilitation and replacement. Currently unaccounted-for water is estimated at over 43%. All consumers are not metered and pay flat rates which make the system financially unsustainable. The armed conflict has led to weak institutional capacity and limited skilled manpower to operate and maintain the water infrastructure as well as inadequate revenue base owing to a deficient billing system and low collection efficiency. Annually, cholera and water-borne diseases have been associated with overcrowding and tend to affect areas supplied by water tankers the most.

Thanks to its successful water supply systems operations in the neighbouring Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, the AfDB is well positioned to play a pivotal role in supporting the socio-economic development of South Sudan. Rehabilitation of the Juba distribution network has not received support from development partners over the years, in spite of its crucial importance in the water supply chain, thus making this project opportune and timely.

AfDB’s grant will fund 90% of the project’s total cost, while the Government will contribute the remaining 10% (€700,000).