By GWWI Regional Coordinator, Rose Wamalwa
Rose Wamalwa is GWWI Kenya/Tanzania Regional Coordinator. She was selected as 1 of 4 East African women for the inaugural GWWI Fellowship class in 2011. Because of her stellar work, she was hired to manage and support 5 women’s teams in Kenya and Tanzania. She also opened her own organization called Women in Water and Natural Resources Conservation. This is one of her stories.
A story is told of a village by the name Kharanda. The residents of this village were privileged to have a community health dispensary that was constructed in 1996, exactly 17 years ago. It was a sigh of relief for men, women and children since they could access healthy facilities easily. However there has been a major problem of lack of safe water to run the health facility.
Kharanda Community dispensary serves 20 villages spread over a radius of 5 km, for 17 years this facility has never had any source of water supply. Nurse Catherine who is currently in charge of the facility has faced a lot of challenges running the dispensary without water. They had to introduce a system where patients had to bring with them water for use in the facility. Alternatively the patients are required to pay a small fee that is used to hire people to supply water to the dispensary for cleaning the facility.
Nurse Catherine admits that it has been a big challenge administering health services in the dispensary without water. This has led to re-infections especially water related illnesses such as cholera, diarrhea and typhoid. Patients have therefore not been able to access safe water for drinking and even washing hands after visiting the toilets and after changing the baby nappies.
Many instances have also been reported of patients who have complications and require admission and continuous observation by health practitioners, but since the dispensary does not have access to safe water, they cannot run an in-patient unit. This has led to a number of patients succumb to related complications.
Keeping the facility clean has always been a challenge since there is no water at the dispensary.
In February 2013, Nurse Catherine’s story has changed, WWNRC constructed a 15,000 liter rain water harvesting tank that now provide quality water for the patients and the staff. Women and children no longer have to bring water to the facility nor pay a fee to carter for water supply. The dispensary’s hygiene status has improved and Nurse Catherine has alluded to staring a maternity wing to carter for expectant mothers.