Keeping new babies healthy

The arrival of safe, clean water is especially important for new and expectant mothers. Here, midwife Otayte Kawata explains the difference new waterpoints have made to mums in her community of Borkora, Ethiopia.

I started work as a midwife 30 years ago. It’s about helping people. My grandmother was also a traditional midwife and she taught me from her experience.  Now I deliver six to ten babies every month.

I need clean water for a delivery to wash my hands, the baby and the mother, even the gloves and equipment I use. I also use alcohol to disinfect everything.

Before the waterpoints the water was very red in the rainy season and sometimes it smelt. We had to run from house to house because there was no water at home. Sometimes, at midnight or early in the morning, we were running to one, two or three homes. It was difficult.

Midwife Otayte Kawata with her medical equipment in Borkora, Ethiopia
Midwife Otayte Kawata with her medical equipment in Borkora, Ethiopia.
  Photo credit: WaterAid/Anna Kari

Water is very important to a new baby, to wash their bodies and their clothes, especially up to six months old. When they start eating additional food, clean water is also needed to prepare the food.

I remember many children who were sick when they started drinking the dirty water. They were sick from amoeba, dysentery and even stomach worms. Now we have the waterpoint close to our homes it is better. Women have more education, and health workers. They have enough water to wash their babies regularly. There are vaccinations through the government, and we are also teaching health awareness.

Now there is no sickness or children dying. We are really lucky.