Where a Newborn was Instantly Affected by a Water Problem
After a long and tiring day at the Alero Health Center III, Awor Stella, the facility’s resident midwife, was resting in the nearby sleeping quarters. It was 2am, and outside she could hear voices that sounded like they were coming closer. When she heard her name being called, she instinctively jumped up, realizing what was needed.
She thought back to how several hours earlier she had washed down the delivery bed and cleaned all of the equipment, using the last of the facilities available water. She knew tomorrow would be another busy day and had planned on being ready in advance. What she had not anticipated was an emergency late-night delivery.
January in Uganda falls in the middle of a dry season, and this year was particularly dry. The Alero Health Center III did not have its own source of clean water. It did have a rain water harvesting tank, but the extreme weather resulted in an empty tank, leaving health center staff to collect water from local sources every morning. The local sources were predominantly hand-dug wells, locally referred to as unprotected springs. While these wells produced water, it was groundwater that was neither clean nor safe – but it was often the only water available.
“I was lucky that I had cleaned the equipment and delivery bed, but not so lucky in that more clean water would still be needed after the delivery,” explained Awor. She had to act fast, so she collected all of the water she had in her home and brought it to the delivery room. It was late and dark outside, which made the idea of walking to the nearest well out of the question. It would be too dangerous for her at this time of night.
Awor shook her head and explained how common this situation was for midwives in East Africa, where so many health centers lack access to clean water. “Health facility workers often go to the local residents to ask them if they have water they can spare when there is an emergency,” she explained. It is not a safe or sustainable situation, and it often results in needless deaths.
With fatigue showing on her face, Awor has asked if Drop In The Bucket would drill a well for her health center. She knows we helped other facilities in the region, and with clean water the health center would be able to help children like Lagum Prossy, the community’s newest member. Although Lagum’s first moments were challenging that early January morning, we are happy to say she made it – thanks to Awor Stella and the staff at the Alero Health Center III.
Now we just need to get them clean water.