Impact Rating

Water for South Sudan

Top Clean Water Nonprofit

Impact: $2 provides clean water to a person for a year.

Well Drilling Program meets the benchmark for high cost-effectiveness. The nonprofit's cost to provide clean water is less than 75% of the local costs.

Note: The impact of this program may not be representative of the entire operation of Water for South Sudan.


Governance: Passes checks


Water for South Sudan delivers direct, transformative and sustainable quality-of-life service to the people of South Sudan by efficiently providing access to clean, safe water and improving hygiene and sanitation practices in areas of great need.


Clean Water

Rated Program

Well Drilling Program

Program Geography

South Sudan


Rochester, NY

Donations processed by the nonprofit.


Clean Water

Rated Program

Well Drilling Program

Program Geography

South Sudan


Rochester, NY

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Rated Program


Well Drilling Program


Water for South Sudan drills wells for remote villages in the Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan. The placement of the wells is determined in collaboration with government and community leaders.

Program Type

Water Access

Beneficiaries Served

People living in poverty


South Sudan

Outcomes: Changes in people's lives. They can be caused by a nonprofit.

Costs: The money spent by nonprofits and their partners and beneficiaries.

Impact: The cost to achieve an outcome.

Cost-effectiveness: A judgment as to whether the cost was "worth" the outcome.


Outcome Metric

A year of clean water provided to a person.

To calculate impact, we estimate how many outcomes the nonprofit caused.

Data Source

Outcome data collected through interviews with village members and feedback from Water for South Sudan field staff who visit well sites.

Time Period of Data

Sept. 1, 2017, to Aug. 31, 2018

Ratings are based on data the nonprofit itself collects on its work. We use the most recent year with sufficient data. Typically, this data allows us to calculate direct changes in participants' lives, such as increased income.

Method for Attributing Outcomes

Water for South Sudan conjectures that only 20 percent of currently served individuals would receive water wells without its program. Unlike Water for South Sudan, larger nonprofits in South Sudan do not typically go to remote villages due to distance and costs.

To determine causation, we take the outcomes we observe and subtract an estimate of the outcomes that would have happened even without the program.


Data Source

Cost data reported by Water for South Sudan and data and assumptions about partner and beneficiary costs.

All monetary costs are counted, whether they are borne by a nonprofit service deliverer or by the nonprofit’s public and private partners.


Impact Statement

$2 provides clean water to a person for a year.

We calculate impact, defined as the change in outcomes attributable to a program divided by the cost to achieve those outcomes.


Benchmark for Rating

Impact ratings of water access programs are based on the cost to provide clean water relative to the market cost that a person incurs to buy water in that country. Programs receive 5 stars if they provide water for less than 75% of the estimated market costs, and 4 stars if they do so for less than 125%. If a nonprofit reports impact but doesn't meet the benchmark for cost-effectiveness, it earns 3 stars.


The nonprofit's cost to provide clean water is less than 75% of the local costs.

Why We Could Be Wrong

We welcome your suggestions for improving our methodology. Our methodology section includes explanations of how we mitigate these issues.

  • The outcome could oversimplify total impact. Using “person-years of clean water” as the metric of analysis does not capture differences in the water quantity, reliability and ease of access.
  • There could be multiple important outcomes not captured in our analysis.
  • Water for South Sudan may be spending additional money in order to serve harder-to-reach and/or particularly valuable populations.
  • In the absence of better data, we assume uniform counterfactual rates for programs, at the risk of masking variation across nonprofits.
  • Our estimates rely on data made public by Water for South Sudan on its website, annual reports, financial statements and Form 990s.
  • We only analyze programs that meet our criteria. As a result, this report may not fully reflect the impact of Water for South Sudan.
  • We do not assess what explains the nonprofit's cost-effectiveness.

We assign a rating to the nonprofit using the rubric:

  • There are indications of governance or financial health issues at the nonprofit.

  • After being given an opportunity, the nonprofit chose not to publish impact information.

    We are not yet issuing this level of star rating.

  • The rated program does not meet our benchmark for cost-effectiveness.

  • The rated program is cost-effective.

  • The rated program is highly cost-effective.

Read More

Nonprofit Comment

Not provided. This may be because we lacked contact information for Water for South Sudan or it chose not to comment. If you are a representative of this nonprofit, contact us to review and comment on your rating.

Before publishing, we ask every nonprofit we can to review our work, offer corrections and provide a comment.

Analysis Details

Analysis conducted by ImpactMatters and published on November 22, 2019.

This rating is based on data reported by Water for South Sudan using ImpactMatters' impact reporting platform. Using data from the platform, ImpactMatters analysts calculated impact and assigned a rating.

We welcome corrections. If you are interested in exploring applications of ImpactMatters data, contact us at

Governance Check

Water for South Sudan passes our governance check.

Overhead spending is reasonable (<35% of total spending)

Charity Navigator has not issued a fraud or mismanagement advisory

Water for South Sudan itself has not reported any material diversions of assets

Water for South Sudan itself has not reported any excess benefit transactions

Source: Water for South Sudan Form 990 and Charity Navigator

How We Calculate Impact

This rating is based on ImpactMatters analysis of the impact of Well Drilling Program relative to costs. Impact is the change in the social outcomes of people served by the program, net of the change that would have happened even without the program (the “counterfactual”); divided by cost. Learn more.

For Donors

A guide to our process for analyzing nonprofits and assigning ratings.

For Nonprofits

Learn about best practices for reporting impact for different program types.

For Researchers

Our collected guidelines on how we analyze impact of nonprofit programs.

Rating is a complex exercise and we urge you to read our frequently asked questions for details of how and why we issue these ratings.