Water is one of the most important and abundant compounds of the ecosystem. All living organisms on the earth need water for their survival and growth. It rarely occurs in its pure form in nature (Ababio, 2005). It is the only substance that exists naturally on Earth in all three physical states of matter; gas, liquid, and solid. The Earth has oceans of liquid water and polar regions covered by solid water and the gaseous water vapour, a greenhouse gas which traps energy radiated from the surface of the planet and provides the planet with warmth. Energy from the sun is absorbed by liquid water in oceans, lakes, and rivers and gains enough energy for some of it to evaporate and enter the atmosphere as an invisible gas, water vapour. As the water vapor rises in the atmosphere it cools and condenses into tiny liquid droplets that scatter light and become visible as clouds. Under the proper conditions, these droplets further combine and become heavy enough to precipitate (fall out) as drops of liquid or, or if the air is cold enough, flakes of solid, thus returning to the surface of the Earth to continue this cycle of water between its condensed and vapor phases. This cycle is known as the Hydrologic cycle.


1. Background

According to Chapman (1996) and BGS, (2001), groundwater is easily the most important component of the hydrological cycle, an important source of potable water in Africa and constitutes about two thirds of the freshwater resources of the world. Surface water is not evenly distributed or accessible to large sections of the global population (Diane, 2004; McDonald and Kay, 1988). Groundwater provides a reasonably constant supply for domestic use, livestock and irrigation, which is not likely to dry up under natural conditions thereby buffering the effects of rainfall variability across seasons (Hamil and Bell, 1986; Calow et al., 2011). In many arid and semi-arid areas of Africa borehole water is a means of coping with water deficiencies in areas where rainfall is scarce or highly seasonal and surface water is extremely limited (David, 2011).

Boreholes sampled varied from 30m – 50m deep, but water was found in the levels between 7 to 20m. Dynamic water level is the level water drops to when the pump is operating due to draw down. Static water level is the level water rises due to infiltration and capillary action (IAS, 2008).  Groundwater appears as vulnerable as surface water due to water table being near the soil surface and layers topping the table being permeable, and superficial sources of pollution being numerous (Boutin, 1987; Singh et al., 2012). There is practically no geological environment at or near the earth’s surface where pH will not support some form of organic life (Chapman, 1996).  Pathogenic bacteria can survive long underground and may have a life span of about 4 years (Hamil and Bell, 1986). Boreholes and wells locally distort the natural flow field and create a path that opens up an additional possibility of heat and mass transfer between rock formations / aquifers, surrounding and atmosphere (Berthold 2010; Akpoveta, 2011).  Indiscriminate waste disposal, poor agricultural practices, septic tanks, pit latrines and graves near boreholes, poor well construction, contribute to borehole water contamination (Sunnudo-Wilhelmy and Gill, 1999; Egwari and Aboaba, 2002; Lu, 2004; McHenry, 2011). These account for the presence of coliform bacteria in borehole water.

World population cannot be sustained without access to safe water (Braunstein, 2007). It is therefore important to conjunctly consider both water quality and quantity in water resources management (Xinghui et al., 2009). Borehole water becomes unsuitable for domestic use as a resource due to contamination that makes it unfit (Holmes, 2007). The aim of water quality management is usually to minimize the health risks associated with either direct or indirect use of water (Udom et al., 2002). Standards and guidelines in water quality stem from the need to protect human health (Minh et al., 2011).  Contamination of water has increasingly become an issue of serious environmental concern after years of pollution (Akpoveta et al., 2011; Silderberge, 2003). Natural water contains many dissolved substances: contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, nitrates and salt have polluted water supplies due to inadequate treatment and disposal of wastes from humans and livestock, industrial discharges and over use of limited water resources (Singh and Mosley, 2003).

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the minimum daily per capita water consumption to be 27 liters/person/day. However, many people manage with far less than 27 liters (Fraceys et al., 1991). This could be because approximately 70% of the renewable water resources are unavailable for human use or under developed or unevenly distributed (Minh et al., 2011; Gleick, 1993). Drought, desertification and other forms of water scarcity are already estimated to affect as many as one third of the world’s population, affecting consumption and migration patterns in many parts of the world (Talafre and Knabe, 2009). The increasing population pressure and rising demand for food and other services has increased demand for water (Nobumasa, 2006; Rodak and Silliman, 2011). This has increased reliance on groundwater resources thereby creating challenges among which are the provisions of adequate quantity and quality of water (WWDR, 2011). Those that are faced with a serious water shortage must either limit their use or make do with used untreated water (Clarke, 1991).

Water scarcity can stifle a nation’s economy, fuel conflicts and negatively impact the environment (Minh et al., 2011). However, borehole water development in Africa is seen as more amenable to poverty targeting than surface water (Kai and Jeroen, 2009; Xinghui et al., 2009). Moreover, it is a low cost option in the long run (Dhawan, 1991). According to (Jan et al., 1993), social-economic conditions improve through improvement of community water supply. This can be achieved through water security which is described as the outcome of the relationship between the availability, accessibility and use relationships (Calow et al., 2011). Accessibility to water reduces effort and time required to collect water hence reduction of workload on women, thus increasing the quantity of daily per capita water consumption thereby increasing production activities such as crop washing, especially small scale gardening (Cairncross, 1987).

Management is the uncertainty about the future availability of water (Minh et al., 2011). This uncertainty is because policy responses have concentrated on food needs and less on mobilization of resources for water interventions, despite evidence that access to safe water is of a serious and inter-related concern (Calow et al., 2011).  The fact that water is not easily accessible to large sections of the global population defines the central management problem of borehole water resources (McDonald and Kay, 1988). Water resources policy should integrate equity, gender, efficiency and environmental consciousness (Weiwei et al., 2009). Women can play several complementary ways such as health educators and supervisors of water programmes. This improves the protection of public from water borne or related diseases since women are the primary providers of water at household level in Africa (SPIDER International Ltd, 1995)

Identifying the factors that affect domestic water quality and consumption is very important in management of available water resources (Keshavarzi et al., 2006). This research endeavors to assess and identify anthropogenic, geographic and hydrological factors impacting borehole water quality and study the borehole water consumption patterns in the selected rural and urban areas of Yei County South Sudan.


1.1 Problem Statement


According to the WHO report (2010), South Sudan lacks adequate improved water resources, with only 40% of the water resources improved, thus 60% of the water resources are faced with pollution beyond the WHO maximum permissible limits. This inaccessibility to clean water poses a risk of water borne diseases as indicated by rampant water borne diseases like typhoid and diarrhea.

The World Health Organization recommends that the minimum daily amount of water per person should be 27litres. It is not clear how much water is explored per capita in Yei County; however it is obvious that many manage far less than 27 liters a day. Yei county had a population of 23,519 in 1983 and 201,443 people in 2010 (SSCCSE, 2010). This population is still increasing and according to Economy Watch 2011, the birth rate of Yei is at 2.14%.

The major source of water in Yei is borehole water, however, with this high birth rate coupled with high rate of refugee returnees, reliance on borehole water resources is increasing  creating challenges of provision of adequate quality and quantity water. MDG.7C. Seeks to half the population of those without access to safe water. Yei County is in a crisis of increasing water scarcity coupled with poor water quality and communities reject some borehole water during specific seasons. There is a gap in knowledge of anthropogenic, geological and hydrological factors impacting on borehole water quality and the patterns of borehole water consumption to identify areas with water stress, and understand consumption patterns, like the effects of distance from the borehole, household size and changing seasons on daily per capita borehole water consumption.


1.2 Objectives

1.2.1 Main Objective

This study was aimed at assessing borehole water quality and consumption patterns in Yei County.

1.2.2 Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of this study were,

  1. To examine seasonal variations in borehole water quality in the rural and urban areas of Yei County, South Sudan.
  2. To assess the effect of distance from water source, household size and changing seasons on borehole water consumption in the rural and urban areas of Yei County, South Sudan.






1.2.3 Hypotheses


  1. There is no significant variation of the selected physico-chemical and microbiological parameters of the borehole water from the WHO maximum permissible limits in the urban and rural areas
  2. There is no significant intra and inter seasonal variations of physico-chemical and microbiological parameters of borehole water in the rural and urban areas of Yei county.
  • There is no significant effect of distance of household from the borehole, household size and changing seasons on the daily per capita amount of borehole water consumed.

1.3 Justification


According to the SSCCE (2010), boreholes and hand pumps provide up to 69.6% of the potable water in Central Equatoria State, with surface water providing 22.5% of the water needs of the communities, other water sources like rain and external supplies like tankers and piped water contribute about 8.9%. The population in Yei cannot be sustained without reliable access to safe water and adequate quantity. The high birth rate has led to increased reliance on borehole water. Many consumers rejected borehole water in specific seasons especially during the wet season, citing sudden change in water taste, appearance or odor, hence the need to determine quality in the dry and wet seasons. Wet Season analysis was done from Mid-June to July 2011 and Dry Season from February to Mid-March 2012.

This research will contribute to MDG 7c by determining water quality parameters and recommending for suitable action or creating awareness about water quality and water borne diseases. This research will also identify areas of water stress where less water is available for use, affecting the per capita consumption. The information from this research will be used to guide government agencies, researchers and other development organizations like NGO’s to develop strategies, policies and institutional infrastructures to provide quality and accessible water resources to communities.


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