The gift of water
PBSP member-companies Dow Chem and BASF
Philippines provide water systems to communities in need
The closest that Barangay Pase in San Dionisio, Iloilo has to decent water supply are two faucets shared by about 1,159 residents.
These farmers, fishermen and their families have to travel far from their residence to the center of the barangay in Purok 2 to reach these two faucets every day just to fetch water for drinking and cooking. But having two faucets can already be considered a luxury in their community as other places rely only on dug wells.
In Hacienda Maria Elementary School (HMES) in barangay Hacienda Maria, San Isidro, Leyte, pupils get their drinking water from a contaminated dug well near a busy highway. The well has been tested positive for e-coli by the barangay health center in 2014, and in September by PBSP. In 2008, an unfortunate event happened when a pupil fell into the well and drowned while fetching water.
These are just a few of the many disturbing issues of lack of access to safe potable water in the Visayas. According to the Eastern Visayas Association of Water Districts, only 40 percent of the population in the region has access to water services which declined further when Super Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the region that damaged their infrastructure and contaminated water sources. This left the already few sources of water like wells and rivers contaminated with human remains and led locals to desperation, smashing water utility pipes just to get water. Others, however, were left with no choice but to fetch water from streams even though these might be contaminated as well.
HEEDING THE CALL
To help address this situation, Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) rallied its member-companies Dow Chemical Pacific Ltd. (Dow Chem) and BASF Philippines, and partner organization, International Rescue Committee (IRC) to provide water systems to these identified areas. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Be Secure Project through PBSP provided technical assistance for the development and maintenance of these water systems.
Dow Chem funded the purchase of construction materials to rehabilitate, expand, and strengthen Barangay Pase’s water system which includes the development of spring source, installation of new pipes, and construction of four tapstands with two faucets each in strategic areas of the barangay to help ease the burden of some 1,159 individuals or 269 households.
BASF through BASF Connected to Care funded the rehabilitation of the HMES water system. The school was provided with a level 3 type system which delivers water directly to the existing handwashing faucets and toilets. This includes a deep well which was covered, and fitted with a point of entry for disinfection (chlorination) unit. The system was also equipped with a motorized pump that will push groundwater to two elevated 2,000-liter capacity steel tank which will then distribute water through gravity. About 340 students and faculty members will benefit from the project.
Meanwhile, small water associations in the municipality of Calinog such as Barangay Guiso Potable Water Association, Simsiman Water Consumers Association, and Agusipan Waterworks and Sanitation Association in Badiangan, will receive chlorination units to help them improve and achieve the Philippine National Standards for Drinking Water in their areas. These chlorination units which was funded by IRC, will benefit a total of 240 households.
“The challenges of water access are closely tied to the challenges of health and sanitation. That is why the provision of this water system, through a multisectoral approach, is an effective and potent strategy to finding solutions to complex and multidimensional issues. Essentially, we are investing in our country’s future by investing in our children’s welfare,” said PBSP Executive Director Reynaldo Antonio Laguda.
The turn-over of the HMES potable water system project was held last Nov. 16, 2016 while chlorination units and Barangay Pase Water System will be turned over on Nov. 22, 2016. Among the attendees are Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr., San Dionisio, Iloilo Mayor Larry Villanueva, USAID Office of Environment, Energy, and Climate Change Director Jeremy Gustafson, Dow Chem Pty. Ltd. Philippine Country Director Roberto Batungbacal, and PBSP Regional Manager for Visayas Angelie Yulo-Millan.
With these projects, locals in Pase don’t have to travel too far anymore just to get water, pupils in HMES no longer have to risk their safey, and the recipients of chlorination systems can now provide potable water to their customers. The partnership between PBSP, USAID Be Secure Project, Dow Chem, BASF, and IRC only proves that by solving problems together, even the most dire situations can be changed for the better.