By Barbara Goldberg
Since starting Wells Bring Hope 13 years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the impact of unsafe water in rural West Africa and how truly life-transforming clean water can be. Yet there was one thing I didn’t know until recently: many health clinics in rural Niger have no water at all. This means that women in labor have to carry their own water for their deliveries, and health care providers have no reliable way to wash their hands and instruments.
Both the lack of water and the unsanitary conditions of the health clinic made most women opt for giving birth at home in their village, putting both them and their babies at risk if there were complications.
Once again, we saw a simple problem with a simple solution but the solution required greater resources: $50,000 to provide water to a health clinic. Since a clinic can serve 5,000-10,000 people a year and provide safe water for everyone in the village where it is located, we considered this to be a worthwhile investment. Fortunately, many of our donors did too.
What makes this project so exciting is that the water system uses solar power to draw the water up to taps that are located in several places in the clinic – the exam room, the treatment room, and the delivery room. With enough water, both mothers and babies can be washed and made clean following delivery. Instruments and the delivery table can be cleaned between patients. The sanitary conditions are greatly improved and women feel safer coming to the health clinic.
Women who have delivered a baby at a clinic with clean water speak joyfully about what this means to them. As one woman said, “When I gave birth to my third child, the health center had just been equipped with a pump. I was one of the first moms. After giving birth, I was treated to a full bath. The acquisition of water restored our dignity.”
Source: Wells Bring Hope
In addition to providing safe water inside the clinic, these water systems make it possible to install a tap stand in a central location in the village, relieving women and girls of the arduous task of walking for water or even of having to manually draw the water up as they would with a handpump well. The ability to turn on a tap and instantly access safe, clean water is something we take for granted, but it is completely transformative for the people we serve in rural Niger.
We’ve funded and completed the construction of two water projects for health clinics and with your help, we’ll fund another one this year! To read more or donate: https://wellsbringhope.org/healthclinic/