'The reality is that there are too few staff, and too few skills, as well as limited knowledge on technical issues.’
Mizanur Rahman, Acting Country Director, RedR UK Sudan
The Expert View
Ahmed Eissa, a civil engineer and RedR’s Sudan WASH Consultant, brings us up to date on the nation’s needs – and how RedR is responding.
What stage is the WASH response now at?
I have recently visited four regions – North and South Darfur in June, and White Nile and Kassala in the last two weeks of August. While there, I ran workshops with local aid organisations to find out what the causes are of the water shortages, and what training is right for each place.
And what are your conclusions?
Each region is different.
White Nile is a region where refugees come to escape the war in South Sudan, before moving on somewhere else. There are about 55,000 people at the moment at the camp. There is water close by – the Nile – but there are not many NGOs and they don’t have the capacity or technical knowledge to meet the need.
They cannot transport the water from the Nile to the camps, and they have far too little storage capacity. The water is not clean and they do not really know how to clean it. Most staff here don’t have experience or practical knowledge.
We need to train them in WASH in Emergencies, to deliver water to those who need it, and in technical water cleaning skills.
Kassala: The situation is a little better. There are a lot of NGOs there. There’s a refugee camp where Eritreans live – about 75,000 people – and the NGOs are doing a very good job. But there are some weaknesses.
The main concerns here are transporting water, and water quality. Here, we will focus on technical and engineering skills, including pipe systems, so water can be cleaned and transported quickly and effectively.
South Darfur: Co-ordination here is very weak. There is no information sharing, so some organisations are duplicating the work of others, while some needs are not being met at all.
North Darfur: Things are a bit better here than in South Darfur, but in both places there are a very large number of people in urgent need of help. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands. The NGOs work hard but have not the experience or the numbers to help. In both places we will offer full training in WASH and all other skills we can. The NGOs know what they are facing and have requested our help.
In all places, there are also other skills people have requested, including proposal writing, report writing and data analysis. RedR UK has a really good reputation here for capacity building and people are very eager to take the trainings.
Trainees and Trainers
Adam Haroun Hassaballa, Project Manager and Acting Director, Water and Environmental Sanitation (part of Sudanese Government and WASH sector lead in North Darfur).
RedR’s WASH in Emergencies course was an excellent chance for me to work with WASH actors and get some answers on field issues and other challenges.
Since the crisis, many people work with IDPs in camps. Many of those people know what their challenges are and what they need to deal with them. But I think there are some knowledge gaps for NGO staff.
Also, maybe we have neglected the needs of people in villages and rural areas, not in the camps. Some have not enough water, many have no sanitation facilities at all. Villages have been forgotten.
The WASH in Emergencies training is very much needed here now. This is the kind of training for people with some expertise, who are working on WASH, and who really need added expertise to build on what they have. It delivers real skills that people need in the field. The participants are very happy.
As people work in the field, they find new things. The RedR training means they can feed their new experience in and compare it with other agencies. They now need training for specific needs.
For me, the first course was a good refresher – and I have worked in WASH here since the crisis began. There were things to learn, new ideas to consider, and others to remember.
WASH is very important. If there is no water – no quality or quantity of water – life is either over or of bad standard. WASH is life.
If you provide water without quality, there will be many diseases and deaths. Without latrines, there are problems and disease. In life and health, water is central.
Hygiene is also important. All of these things must be dealt with and provided. If we provide water and latrines without promoting their use, it would be pointless. Nonsense. They save health and life. So promotion is a vital skill to learn.
Morshid Ussman, Senior Programme Manager, Darelsalam Development Association
‘Many of the organisations who ran WASH programmes were international groups. They are not here now. This left a real gap in skills and capacity. So organisations like us stepped in, and we are now an active member of the WASH response group.
We are not as big as Oxfam, so RedR’s training for us is vital. It makes a difference because we have knowledge of the field, but we need expertise as well. The training helps us to achieve that.
There are serious issues here. Last year, there was a real lack of water. Simply, not enough for everyone. At IDP camps like Changil Tobay, we just don’t have the capacity. There isn’t enough water. A real shortage.
And in some locations, we have thousands of people relying on just one borehole for all the water they use. We need more to provide for demand and need. RedR’s training helps us in both cases, with technical skills and logistics knowledge, as well as how to build community awareness.
Training can be different for different people, at different levels of expertise. Some have more experience than others. RedR is focussing on strengthening the capacity of WASH staff, and working to bring forward WASH skills in this region.
Yusuf Abdulmoua, WASH Project Officer, Darelsalam Development Association
I have taken two RedR WASH courses, WASH in Emergencies and WASH management. They will definitely be useful, for me and for the WASH sector here.
It was a really useful chance to think and to learn, to think about challenges and how to respond.
The WASH sector here in Sudan has a few experts but not enough people who really know enough. This training means that organisations’ best people can gather together. We can exchange information and learn from each other.
WASH is the major challenge here. WASH experts are needed. Many of those we have work in emergencies. That is important and we do need that, but we also need experts in sustainability.
There is not enough water here. We can’t provide the quantity that people need.
People come into camps, and they are often moving into a place where there was not a settlement before, because there was no water there. That means the camp will have no water. In other cases, there are small settlements, where there is enough water for 10 or 100 people. But 4,000 IDPs come there. Of course there will not be enough water for everybody.
People need aid and assistance and RedR’s work is very important. It is helping the sector as a whole. All the people who work in WASH and the people who need access to water. RedR’s work must continue.
The WASH in Emergencies training was very important. It is based on what we feel we need to work to improve. The needs are divergent. Some organisations are far more advanced than others. We have special areas we’d like to take, so there should be more training for people at different levels. That would be very useful to us all.
John Adams, Associate Trainer, RedR
I ran four workshops in September 2014, two WASH in Emergencies and two WASH Project Management.
Speaking to WASH people in North and South Darfur, there is a gap – recognised by NGOs here – in the capacity of national actors to deliver good quality services in the WASH sector. There’s also a gap in technical skills and management capacity to design and implement programmes.
Part of the capacity gap is in areas of information management. The ongoing human need, the scale and nature of it are hard to estimate.
Many major international aid organisations have withdrawn from Darfur. This means there is a much greater burden on national NGOs, government and the remaining INGOs. A gap has widened, which RedR is trying to fill.
It has become apparent the extent to which local actors are asking for more support, technical advice, capacity building, management advice, how to connect into the humanitarian system more broadly, co-ordination mechanisms, developing good practice in humanitarian responses.
There is strong demand from people as individuals and as representatives of organisations.
There’s a need for training on effectiveness, water supply, sanitation, project design, writing proposals, technical and managerial skills, access to good quality technical skills.
National workers for NGOs don’t have the sense that this need is provided for anywhere.
That’s why so many people were very pleased that RedR is here and training on these issues.
It would also be good to provide a service that enables organisations to look at management and governance. Identify areas where they could work on increasing capacity.
Almost everyone who gave us feedback and handed in their action plans post-workshops said they would share info or even run short training sessions themselves. There’s a real intention to share the ideas and learning with colleagues and put them into practice.
Reports from North and South Darfur from key government departments some of the few major INGOs still operating there and a large number of NGOs active in the sector say our training will have a considerable effect in terms of quality of what activities take place.