By Linda Unger*
June 4, 2014—Slowly roasting in the heat of the mid-day sun, residents of El Saharig in East Darfur State line up just outside the local water yard with their donkey carts, horse carts, camels, and on foot to draw clean, safe water into barrels, tanks, and jerry cans and bring it home to their families.
The dusty line bunches up at the entrance to the yard, which is ringed by homes of dry grass and thatch and by a few trees. Everyone and everything, including the endless sand under foot is tinged with a slight harsh blue, a reflection of the cloudless sky above. The “line,” a loose term, may not be straight, but on a recent Saturday in May, it was orderly, patient and peaceful.
Mohammed Ali Ahmed, a father of six, comes every day to the El Saharig water yard to draw water for his family. It used to be, he says, that people would wait for hours on such a line, only to have some neighbors cut in—anxious for their turn—and violent fights break out.
Between sand and sky, villagers of El Saharig in East Darfur State, Sudan, line up just outside a water yard recently renovated by UMCOR. Every day, 15,000 people draw water from this source. PHOTO CREDIT: Sharad Aggarwal
But the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) refurbished the water yard, overhauling the pipeline that feeds the taps, building new tap stands, and repairing the elevated storage tanks, among other improvements.
Now, Ahmed says, he waits only about 20 minutes for his turn at the tap, and conflicts around the scarce resource have diminished. Every day, the water yard is used by some 15,000 residents of both El Saharig and nearby El Neem Camp for persons displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region.
“There is less competition because there is more water available. The water is pure, and not contaminated. There are separate taps for humans and for animals, so there is less risk of disease,” Ahmed says. “I appreciate UMCOR for the great service it has provided.”