Clean Water was a Constant Concern for the Patients and Staff of the Wii Anaka Health Center in Nwoya, Uganda
Ojok Patrick works at the Wii Anaka Health Center, and every morning he rides his bicycle several miles to fetch water from distant Wang Angila. While the water there is piped in, clean and safe for use in a health center, it is also the only safe water in the area, so there are always long lines. The distance and wait make it impossible for Ojok to make more than one trip each day, and he can only load four containers of water on his bicycle. His water has to be rationed by the entire staff at the health center. The water he brings is used by the patients for drinking and taking their medicine, the medical staff for treating patients, and the maintenance staff for cleaning.
Wilobo Willy George is the laboratory technician at the health center, and he uses the water Ojok brings every day. He says his department is the most affected by the water rationing because they need it for hand washing, cleaning equipment, diluting reagents, and in staining, which he explains as the process of dipping the blood sample for test in a reagent then in water repeatedly. “I have to perform so many tasks that require water, but rarely do I have enough water to complete them,” he says. In many cases, he even has to leave the center to fetch water by bicycle as his patients wait.
“They say ‘why go to a health center when the conditions are the same at home?’”Sharon Faith – Midwife at the Wii Anaka Health Center III in Uganda.
Aber Sharon Faith, the midwife at the health center, says they never have enough water in the maternity ward. While most people realize that water is needed for delivering babies, they also need water for cooking, and the maternity room has to be thoroughly cleaned before each baby gets delivered. This lack of water at the facility discourages expectant mothers from going to the hospital to give birth, commenting that they may as well have their baby at home rather that going to a facility that lacks clean water. Aber shakes her head resignedly, “they say, ‘why go to a health center when the conditions are the same at home?’”
Even the clean, piped water runs out during the dry season, leaving the health center with no choice but to use any unsafe water they can find. The health center installed a medium-sized rain water harvesting tank that has proven useful during rain season, but it’s not uncommon to find dead lizards in the tank, contaminating the water and making it unsafe.
Drop In The Bucket drills a well for the Wii Anaka Health Center II
Thanks to a generous donation from the Feya Foundation and Causebox, Drop In The Bucket were able to drill a well for the Wii Anaka Health Center. After the well was completed, the staff and locals celebrated – the community even donated a goat and held a celebratory feast.
“I, in particular, celebrated the fact that I will finally have enough water for all my laboratory needs,” said a thrilled Wilobo.
“Before the well, we would often be short on water when women went into labor during the night – now we have water right in our yard,” said the excited midwife Aber.“We shall now have enough water for swallowing our tablets, and we might not even need to carry water from home like before,” states Adok Joan, a patient who came for treatment.