Challenges in Setting up a Potable Water Supply System in a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission: The South Sudan Experience

Challenges in Setting up a Potable Water Supply System in a United Nations Peacekeeping Mission: The South Sudan Experience

Source: International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 2013

Author(s): Anirudda Hazra

Countries: South Sudan

Topics: Basic Services, Peace and Security Operations, Renewable Resources

Added: 01/10/2017

 

Problem:

A United Nations peacekeeping contingent was deployed in the conflict affected areas of South Sudan with inadequate environmental sanitation, lack of clean drinking water and a heightened risk of water-borne diseases. In the immediate post-deployment phase, the contingent-owned water purification system was pressed into service. However, laboratory analyses of processed water revealed its unsuitability for human consumption.

Approach:

A systematic, sanitary survey was conducted to identify the shortcomings in the water supply system's ability to provide potable water. Under field conditions, the ‘H2S method’ was used to detect faecal contamination of drinking water.

Local setting:

The raw water from the only available source, the White Nile River, was highly turbid and contaminated by intestinal and other pathogens due to an unprotected watershed. Water sterilizing powder was not readily available in the local area to replenish the existing stocks that had deteriorated during the long transit period from the troop contributing country. The water pipelines that had been laid along the ground, under water-logged conditions, were prone to microbial recontamination due to leakages in the network.

Relevant changes:

The critical evaluation of the water supply system and necessary modifications in the purification process, based upon locally available options, yielded safe drinking water.

Lessons learnt:

Provision of safe drinking water in the mission area requires an in-depth analysis of prevailing conditions and appropriate planning in the pre-deployment phase. The chemicals for water purification should be procured through UN sources via a ‘letter of assist’ request from the troop contributor.

 

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