Collecting water is usually a job for the women and children in the village of Kiteria, in the central Sudanese state of North Kordofan.
Just to collect water, Maryam Haj Mohamed used to walk 10 hours a day – five hours from her village to the nearest well and five hours back.
To guarantee enough water to cook, wash clothes, and drink, she would get up long before dawn and set out on the strenuous journey with six jerry cans strapped to her donkey.
“Don't remind me of the past! It was terrible. There was a hand pump near the village, but you couldn’t drink the water. It was too salty, so we would travel very far.”
The lives of Marayam and other women in her village have improved enormously since WFP helped the villagers excavate a nearby “haffir” – a traditional hand-dug reservoir which collects rain and holds up to 12,000 cubic metres of clean water.
Marayam said now that the haffir is close to her village she can collect 12 jerry cans a day instead of six. The travel time she and the other women save can now be used to tend to their fields, improving productivity and incomes.
And now they have a reliable water source, fewer men are migrating away from the village to look for work.
WFP compensates the villagers with food in return for the energy and time they expend dredging the haffirs and redesigning them to be more efficient.