Water is life, but if it’s not clean it can also spell death, or at least all sorts of diseases.
Some 80 inmates at the prison in Malakal, who used to both bathe in and drink untreated water from the river next to the penitentiary, know all about that, but thanks to a joint project implemented by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and World Vision, they can now consider skin rashes and bouts of runny tummies history.
“Now we finally have fresh drinking water at our disposal. It will help us improve our personal hygiene and reduce the risk of catching diseases from contact with dirty water,” a grateful 25-year-old inmate said as newly installed pipelines and a water tank holding 20,000 litres of clean, filtered water were handed over to the prison authorities.
While justifiably appreciative of the contribution of the two organizations, the young man could also have thanked himself and some his friends spending time behind bars. Supervised by engineering troops serving with the peacekeeping mission, a group of inmates assisted in the digging and connecting of the pipelines through which the water flows from a treatment plant to the water tank.
“It was really rewarding for us to see how involved both the prison leadership and the convicts were in the process of making this happen,” said Corrections Officer Ivica Markovic, serving with UNMISS.
An important part of the peacekeeping mission’s mandate in South Sudan is to help build the capacity and infrastructure of all links of the country’s justice system, including prisons. Leda Limann, Head of the Mission’s Field Office in Malakal, assured those in attendance at the handover ceremony, that this kind of support and cooperation with the government of Upper Nile State will continue.
“I am encouraging you as prison wards and professionals to uphold the principles of human rights and ensure the dignity of your inmates. After their reformation, they will become free citizens who can contribute to the development of the country, as the ones who participated in this project have already demonstrated,” she said.