By Alasana Leigh
People of Nyofellleh lament the lack of clean potable water, speaking to this medium at least four residents of the village including the Alkalo and two Health Workers raised concerns for the government to invest in clean drinking water.
Speaking to Alkalo Dembo Barrow over the weekend of 3rd September 2023, he told our reporter “that some waters are clean while others are not”. Lamenting that others will go for two days without fetching water from their well because it’s not fit for drinking. Alkalo Barrow noted that there are taps within his village but they are very few which leads to water scarcity. He added that there are people in his village without wells or taps who are left with no option but to access water from other compounds. Alkalo Barrow called on the Government, NGOs and individuals to help his village with improved access to potable water.
Speaking to one Seedy Baldeh of Nyofelleh he revealed that “we don’t have taps here, the taps don’t reach our area. We drink from the well and if you draw water from the well you can see particles in the water. You will see things moving inside the water”. Highlighting the health challenges they face, Mr Baldeh said “a lot of stomach pains affecting people in the village are caused by the water. Some people claim that the food we are eating is causing stomach pains but I believe it’s the water we are drinking. The wells are not covered so all kinds of things get into the wells”.
Asked what message he had for the authorities, Mr Baldeh an elderly man of the village said “water is power and we are calling on the government to help the entire village and the whole of Kombo South to ensure we have access to potable drinking water”.
According to the UNICEF Website, “in The Gambia, 61.8 per cent of the population has access to improved sanitation, with 1 per cent still practising open defecation, and only 30.9 per cent of the population practising hand washing with soap or other detergents”. Most importantly, “only 34 per cent (one third) of households are using safely managed drinking water services”. The UNICEF Website reveals that “the proportion of household members with a hand washing facility where water and soap or detergent are present remains low at 31 per cent compared to 30.3 per cent in 2010 which requires intensified efforts (MICS 2010, 2018)”.
Turning our attention to the welfare of the only Clinic in Nyofelleh, our reporter spoke to a Senior Nurse named Sarjo Sambou who revealed that the challenges that they face in accessing clean water is affecting their ability to provide quality health care. “Water is essential, no human being can go without water. In fact, access to water in Nyofelleh is a problem. At the centre of Nyofelleh water is accessible, however, other areas do not have the same access to water,” said Nurse Sambou. He noted that an extension of water pipes is needed to improve the access to water to other people outside the centre. Nurse Sambou explained that “people have been reporting to the clinic with water-borne diseases, however, this has reduced drastically”.
Speaking about the type of diseases they record now Nurse Sambou said that they only register Diahhorea cases and are no longer recording Cholera cases. Back in the 90s, they used to record such diseases but this is no longer the case. There has been an increase in sensitisation of the public on how to treat their water which is having a positive impact on the reduced number of cases of waterborne diseases.
Turning his attention to how the lack of water is impacting their Clinic, Nurse Sambou revealed that they have a borehole and the pipe is leaking. He explained that at the moment of conducting the interview, they had no access to water in the clinic. He noted that they reported the situation but nothing has been done to rectify it and that even if they fill up the tank with water, all of the water leaks out from the pipe within ten minutes, however, people are staying at the clinic without water.
Urging the government to act, Nurse Sambou Today said he wants the Authorities to know “that the Community and other donors constructed the Clinic. Now this Clinic is in the hands of the Community and even receiving our salary is a challenge and the supply of adequate medicines is a problem”. Sarjo Sambou says he has been a certified Nurse since 1982.
Our reporter spoke to another intern Nurse at Nyofelleh Clinic named Mariatou Jawo who shared her experience at the Clinic. According to Nurse Jawo, “I’m staying in the Clinic but sometimes we don’t have water for two days and I’m staying in the clinic”. Speaking about how they cope Nurse Jawo explained that they “fetch water from outside which is usually not clean and you can see particles inside the water. Before you protect somebody, you must protect yourself”. She noted that the lack of water is affecting their ability to drink water, cook and take shower. She called on the Government to assist them to access clean water.
Senior Nurse Sarjo Sambou revealed a number of issues affecting the clinic such as the lack of medicines, an ambulance in poor condition and a Midwife who is unavailable during weekends and others. Our future publication will dwell more on these challenges.