Published on: 08/06/2020
Vivian Kumah has been the lead nurse in charge of the community health planning and service centre at Gambia No 1 for about four and half years – and getting water had been a problem for almost the whole of that time.
Material prepared by a team from the Ghana National Development Planning Commission and IRC Ghana
Two months after she arrived in this Asutifi North community in 2015 a problem developed with the piped supply and from that time onwards nurses had to go and queue at community pumps. Infection control in the health centre became much more difficult.
“If you don't have water you can't do the cleaning and dusting or decontaminate the instruments you use on people,” she said. “So we had problems. You have to economise with the amount of the water you use for hygienic tasks.”
“Childbirth without water is not safe because you have to use instruments on the baby and the mother, and you have to decontaminate the instruments before you use them for other people.”
Pregnant women had to arrive at the centre with buckets of water or send relatives to queue up and bring it. Afterwards they had to take their soiled clothing and linen home with them.
All that has changed for the better. World Vision and partners started drilling a borehole in June 2019 and by January 2020 water was flowing – to the health centre, Gambia Primary School and the community.
Staff and patients are grateful, says Vivian Kumah. “We are very happy because we don't have problems with water now, so we thank World Vision very much. When you need water you just open the tap. We can do infection prevention control and the clients who come to the facility also benefit.”
The solar powered facility had been sponsored by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation as part of the ANAM initiative in Asutifi North. It serves the health centre and school and provides two community standpipes where water is sold to generate enough money to cover minor repairs and maintenance.
Festus Boadi, World Vision WASH officer for sanitation and hygiene in Asutifi North, said that sustainability had been built in. “Because it is solar powered we expect that with proper maintenance, it should last for a very long time. The water provided is very high yielding capacity and the system has been made in such a way that each household should be able to connect the water to their houses."
About 1,500 people live in Gambia No 1 and World Vision also mechanised one of the existing community borewells to ensure access to water within a 30 minute round trip.
Daniel Buama, chairman of the Gambia No 1 water and sanitation management team says the new scheme has brought water into the heart of the community for the first time. He promises that the community will maintain the system and continue to make payments for water. “My team is very active. We make accounts for the community and tell the community how the facility is being managed.”
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