“Apat na Dapat” is the call from the Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman prioritizing four (4) areas of development to uplift the living conditions of ARMM communities. Food security, shelter with water and sanitation, electricity, and livelihood are the core of this development agenda.
On September 10, 2015, the Regional Economic and Development Planning Board (REDPB) approved Resolution No. 13 creating the Regional Sub-Committee on Water and Sanitation (RSCWS). The said sub-committee is the first ever regional body in the country that is tasked to oversee the implementation of Water and Sanitation programs and projects.
To date, RSCWS is developing its Six (6) Year Strategic Development Plan focusing on water and sanitation programs and projects through the convergence effort of the RSCWS member agencies together with the partner organizations, A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) and UNICEF, during the sub-committee workshop held on October 20-21, 2016 at the Ritz Hotel, Garden Oases, Davao City. The workshop was spearheaded by the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG), as Committee Chair, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as co-chair, and assisted by the Regional Planning and Development Office (RPDO).
During the workshop, the RSCWS reviewed the status of water and sanitation, and identified each member agencies’ roles with respect to the Three Pillars: Demand Creation, Supply Capacity, and Governance Ability. With these, the sub-committee will expectedly overcome issues and bottlenecks on water and sanitation to strengthen and empower local government units (LGUs) as well as meet the needs of their constituents. RPDO Executive Director Engr. Baintan A. Ampatuan stated that unsafe water and unsanitary facilities have been some of the major problems in the region. She further emphasized the importance of water and sanitation. Accordingly, there is no peace of mind in the absence of proper hygiene and potable water.
“There is a fine line between the usage of water as cooking and drinking, and as bathing and garbage dumping. With the sub-committee on water and sanitation in the ARMM, we can now change the lifestyle of the poorest of the poor. From unclean to potable water, from unsanitary to hygienic facilities, and from remote watersheds to accessible and improved watersheds and systems, we can uplift their living conditions, reduce water-borne diseases as well as decrease poverty incidence,” Engr. Ampatuan added.
In line with the regional government’s initiatives, ASDSW together with UNICEF provide financial and technical assistance to the RSCWS as part of the ongoing long term support through the improvement in the delivery of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) services. Mr. Kevin Lee, ASDSW Executive Director, stressed that the workshop showed that the Autonomous Regional Government is acknowledging that WaSH is a basic human right and poverty alleviation issue.
“The regional government by creating this focal point, building achievable plans that address issues and bottlenecks associated with what has failed in the past, and leveraging initiatives that have been made at municipal and provincial level represents a turning point for WaSH in ARMM which is critically lagging other regions in Mindanao,” Executive Director Lee expressed.
Atty. Noor Hafizullah Abdullah, DILG Executive Director, and RSCWS co-chair and head of the technical secretariat emphasized the importance of the 6-Year Strategic Development Plan of the RSCWS. “One of the region’s goals is to have an inclusive growth and poverty reduction with improved access to clean water and water facilities. Water, Sanitation and Hygiene are essential to protect health, and life, as a whole, by reducing water-related diseases through proper implementation of programs and projects. The Strategic Development Plan is our key in identifying those WatSan initiatives in accordance to the needs of the localities. We also need the full participation of the LGUs which is very vital because they are our gateways to the local beneficiaries”, he stressed.
The RSCWS is one of the sub-committees under the Regional Development Administration Committee (RDAC) of the REDPB that aims to provide better support and guidance to local partners through capacity building, resource mobilization, technical support, knowledge sharing and management interventions on water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).