Askalech Abera, is a mother of four and is expecting her fifth child, so she has a lot of experience with pregnancy and childbirth in Ethiopia, and recognises the challenges, one of which is access to clean water. Easy access to safe and clean water improves the pregnancy experience of women and the health of both the mother and her unborn baby.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, where Askelech lives say the fixing of broken water points in their area by Vita, has improved their health and that of their family especially the children.
Previously, these women walked long distances to collect water from distant shallow wells or streams. The water was dirty, contaminated and shared with livestock.
Apart from diseases that are caused by drinking dirty and contaminated water, pregnant women suffer spinal injuries due to carrying heavy water jerrycans. They complain of backaches during and after pregnancy.
Askalech says before Vita fixed the water points in her community, she walked long distances to fetch water.
“My current pregnancy experience is different from the other four. After the water point broke down, we (community) for a long-time fetched water from a lake which is located one hour away from my home. I spent about two hours every day collecting water. This put a lot of pressure on my back. Up to now, I still have back pains because of walking long distances and carrying heavy containers when I was pregnant. If not lucky, some women would even have miscarriages or go into labour while going to get water” she said.
Recovering from birth and looking after a new-born baby can be an overwhelming task. Having to walk for hours while carrying water becomes an even bigger problem.
“When my four other babies were born, I would leave them with a neighbour from their third day everyday as I went to collect water. I would not risk carrying them with me because I was weak, the weather was not conducive for a three-day old baby on the my back. This made me really tired as I was still recovering and had a lot of house chores to attend to plus a baby” she said.
The newly fixed water points give women and nursing mothers a priority when collecting water as they do not have to wait in line to fetch water. The project is facilitated by Vita who supply the pump, etc but the community themselves do a lot of the physical work and set up a committee to oversee, maintain and manage the water point.
“We are given priority at the water point. This gives us women some time to rest. This is a game changer especially for nursing mothers as they now have more time bonding with the babies” she said.
Vita with support from its partners is repairing broken water points in Arba Minch. The impact of increased access to safe and clean water is multi-faceted. From improved health, to education, to agriculture and social impacts, women, children and the entire community can now experience life events more.