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On February 6, 2017, the people of Bgy. Macarascas in Puerto Princesa City celebrates its achievement as the first Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) barangay in the city and in the province of Palawan. The project is implemented in partnership with the Seaoil Foundation, Inc., the city government of Puerto Princesa and the A Single Drop for Safe Water. The project is the first of its kind being implemented by SFI and ASDSW in the province.
The project covers 10 pilot barangays namely; Bgys. Maunlad, Bancao-bancao, San Pedro, San Manuel and San Miguel, Macarascas, Buenavista, Bahile, Tagabinet and Cabayugan. The rural sanitary inspectors from the CLGU, along with barangay health workers and community volunteer sanitary inspectors were capacitated by ASDSW in the Phased Approach to Total Sanitation (PhATS) and are now raring to attain ZOD in their respective barangays. The CLGU created a verification team to support the validation and verification process and is actively involved in the process.
For an enabling environment, the CLGU Technical Working group is set to conduct WaSH planning on February 16-17 to further institutionalize and strengthen WaSH development in Puerto Princesa.
By Stephanie Tumampos / Special to the BusinessMirror
The Philippines, through its Philippine Water Supply Sector Roadmap created by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), has aimed to hit the universal water-access target by 2025. Yet, as hopeful as it seems, this goal requires bigger responsibilities.
In order to reach this goal, the World Bank Group reports in its 2015 Service Delivery Assessment of the Water Supply and Sanitation in the Philippines: Turning Finance into Services for the Future that the Philippines would need an average of $803 million per year to be spent on water supply to reach the universal water-access target in 2025 and $619 million per year to meet goals on sanitation by 2028. An additional $210 million per year for maintenance and operation for water-access infrastructure and $132 million per year for sanitation.
The monetary figures are overwhelming, as the country also addresses problems in many sectors. As per the World Bank Group, the international body says these national goals can only be met if there is a strong political will to mobilize these investments. But beyond these monetary figures, a strong grassroots approach, specifically the movement of people and the demand for clean water, is needed to further push these goals to reality.
There are a number of organizations that strive to push clean water, sanitation and hygiene to local communities, but unlike any other group, A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW) steps up the game by utilizing the government as the main focal point driving the demand force, hence creating supply of clean water.
The need for safe and clean water is a basic right, yet, many are deprived in undeserved rural areas all over the country. Only 5 percent of the current population in the Philippines has proper connections to sewerage systems; over 8 million Filipinos have no access to clean water; and more than 30 million of the population have no access to sanitary toilets.
This inspired Kevin Lee, an American brought up and educated in New Zealand and arrived in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer assigned to water and sanitation projects in 2004, to establish the ASDSW in 2006, an organization that aims to strengthen water sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) governance, and collaborate technical capacities with various partners.
Lee had a good life in New Zealand. He was born in South Africa by American parents and moved to New Zealand, where he was raised and educated the Kiwi way. Lee then got his mechanical engineering degree and worked in the steel industry before working in the pollution-control industry.
“I joined Peace Corps just for a change and came here in February of 2004, and was in Baguio and Nueva Vizcaya for their water and santitation programs,” Lee said in an exclusive interview with the BusinessMirror. The work Lee had in the Philippines, for him, an eye opener. Coming from a heavy-industry background, there was a complete change of career when he arrived in the country, and Lee had the opportunity to serve in a very different field. “When I was working here [in the Philippines], I was starting to understand some of the issues that were impacting water and, santiation development and, then, I was trying to figure out what to do,” he explained.
From there, he met Gemma Bulos, a Filipino-American musician and teacher who also aimed for a clean water and proper sanitation. The two worked together to create ASDSW, with Lee giving talks and doing some trainings for the biosand filters.
“It wasn’t a real conscious decision to say I’m in the Philippines for a certain reason, but opportunity was there and there was no reason to leave. The investment in the Philippines came after we started a single drop there was work, and there was more opportunity,” Lee explained. “Most of all, there’s a challenge in what we started. We started something really cool, and I like the people that I work with, and I like the progress that we made and see it happening.”
And it was evident enough that progress happened just a year after ASDSW was established. In 2007 one of the major programs Lee did with the ASDSW was their project in the Administrative Region in Muslim Mindanao, where they worked with 31 municipalities with seven non-governmental organizations. The project has benefited over 35,000 people in the area. It’s about the people…and the demand
“It’s never the technology, it’s about the poeple,” Lee said during the interview with the BusinessMirror, citing the importance of understanding the current situation and problem of the community.
In one of their projects in Nueva Vizcaya, the community already has springwater developments and distribution systems, but locals were still tapping water from undeveloped springs. “We have to build the capacity to design things correctly, implement things correctly; but we also have to take responsibility for maintaining it and operating it,” Lee said. And overtime, the organization discovered that, while it is important to create solutions, it also has to create the demand for water and sanitation services to keep the clean water running.
“The issue that people always say is that water is important, but when you implement and you ask people to pay for it they say, ‘walang pera’ [no money],” Lee lamented. “We have to make people understand that water and sanitation are important and should be a priority by our lives and the government.” ASDSW pushed locals and even the local governments that it worked with to understand the importance of prioritizing clean water and sanitation by investing in it and changing the behavior of the people. “You change your behavior the way you go to the toilet; you change your behavior to wash your hands,” Lee said.
Working with the government provides challenges along the way. Lee had to provide a good example on how clean water and sanitation services can have good effects on the economy. “We discovered that for the most vulnerable families, the cost [for clean water and sanitation services] is equivalent to their 13th-month pay, and so the money that they would lose on medical cost, they won’t lose anymore,” Lee explained to the BusinessMirror. “And their lost opportunity cost to earn money is increased, and so this creates wealth,” he added.
Aside from the economic impact, Lee explained that good water services increase a child’s good health. “Within the first five years is where you have the biggest impact of the learning capacity of the children, so by raising that awareness and creating demand, then people start investing and changing their behaviors.”
These reasons can actually start people to think and demand improved WaSH services from the government, as well as demanding responsibility from water-service providers.
Lee comes from a country where water, sanitation and hygiene services exceed not just a basic human right but also a privilege. He emphasized that the key component in any program is to create demand.
In most vulnerable communities in the Philippines, demand for these kind of services is low. The understanding of prevention of waterborne diseases, malnutrition and proper livelihood stems from proper WaSH services. This kind of mind-set leads to poverty alleviation.
“We have to identify areas with sanitation problems, and the local government units must be the focal point,” Lee said. The importance of having the cooperation and collaboration in the municipal level is that community participation can be pushed. “If the LGU has the knowledge and the push, demand, supply and good governance intersect, and success is achieved.” Hence, a strategic plan-resource mobilization is needed.
Behavior change is needed, particularly when it comes to sanitation, which relates to health and economic impact. “Many people in most vulnerable communities have very limited amount of money, and they have to decide on what they should invest and without understanding the economic impact of not having a toilet, they chose to spend it on other things,” Lee said.
Beyond the social issues, Lee, through ASDSW, also sees that people would not only address proper WaSH services but also take pride in that having a proper toilet, which goes a long way in terms of people’s confidence and pride in their homes.
“We want to be proud of where we live,” Lee said to the BusinessMirror. He added, “It’s not about shame but we want to be proud of where we live, and we want to be healthy.”
The future for ASDSW
As Lee stays in the Philippines, the work for ASDSW continues. The organization itself has come a long way since 2006. In 2009 ASDSW partnered with Oxfam and other local organizations, where it entered the humanitarian response industry. In 2011, right after Typhoon Sendong devastating the city of Cagayan de Oro, ASDSW included high-profile WaSH interventions, such as designing, building and operating sludge disposal plants.
Lee said, “There is always a return of investment when we invest in clean water and sanitation services and that kind of investment starts in our mindset change that having these kind of services can go a long way for long term effects.”
This is the usual question that plagues the LGUs when faced with the issue of funding prioritized projects in their WaSH development plans. To address this, ASDSW, through the funding from UNICEF conducted a resource mobilization training in Capiz to assist the LGUs in accessing funds for their prioritized WaSH projects, that can’t be normally funded from their internal resources.
The training was conducted on November 3-4, 2016 at San Antonio Village Resort in Roxas City. The training was conducted by a senior policy and PPP specialist from WSP- World Bank, Ms. Alma Porciuncula. This was participated by local planners and implementers from various Capiz municipalities. The training emphasized that money is available from various fund streams, the LGU need only to get serious in providing documentary requirements to access the funds. Various streams presented were grants, credit financing, Bonds, PPP schemes and micro-financing, among others.
The training is ASDSW effort of provide assistance to LGUs in resource mobilization for projects that cannot be readily funded through their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) or local revenues. This is to fast track service delivery and promote impact for much needed services to their constituents.
“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).
Two (2) staff from A Single Drop for Safe Water, Inc joined Oxfam and PDRRN team on a Rapid Assessment of damages brought by Typhoon Lawin (international name HAIMA) which ravaged the provinces of Cagayan, Apayao and Isabela starting midnight to early dawn of October 20, 2016. The team set out from manila on October 20, 2016 at 5:00 in the morning and reached Cauayan, Isabela at 5:00 in the afternoon.
Typhoon Lawin with a radius of 800 km and a maximum winds of up to 225 km/h and gustiness of up to 315 km/hr made landfall in Penablanca, Cagayan, devastating livelihood and property along its path. It is classified a super typhoon which affected almost all provinces of Luzon to as far south as Cavite and Batangas, including Metro Manila.
The team assessed the damages brought by the typhoon in the provinces of Isabela going through the municipalities of Delfin Albano and San Pablo. A team tried to assess the Sto. Tomas and Sta. Maria but was unable to due to damaged bridges rendering the towns inaccessible at this time. Other provinces assessed were Apayao in the municipalities of Conner and Kabugao, and the province of Cagayan assessing the city of Tuguegarao and the towns of Baggao and Lal-lo. It is apparent at the end of the 7-day assessment that affected provinces will need lots of assistance in livelihood and shelter. Water sources also needs development support to ensure safe water for the residents of the affected provinces.
The degree of devastation may be glimpsed in the following story:
Marites Cabag, a resident of Baggao, Cagayan shared her experience with Typhoon Lawin: When the typhoon came, it was around 12 midnight. The water rose and I knew we had to leave. My house was made of wood. My eldest son said he wanted to stay, but I said it was better for us to evacuate so we would be safe. We went to our neighbor on the other side of the street. The next day, we saw that our house was totally destroyed. All our appliances – our TV, refrigerator, electric fan – even our guitar, durabox, kitchenwares and clothes were scattered on the ground. I went in and picked up our clothes. Those were all we had. Our neighbors saw what happened and helped us build a makeshift house made from the wood from our old home. —(shared from Oxfam sa Pilipinas FB page)
A total of 37 valiant men and women from Capiz and Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao underwent training on “Managing WaSH in Emergencies” sponsored by Financial Enablers and UNICEF respectively. The training in Roxas City, Capiz on September 20-22, 2016 was participated by 9 staff from A Single Drop for Safe Water, 3 from the International Medical Corps and sole emergency responder from the People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network.
The training for the ARMM was conducted in General Santos City on September 27-29, 2016 participated by LGU staff coming from the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Tawi-tawi, Marawi City, Basilan, Lamitan City, Sulu, Maguindanao, Office of the Regional Governor, DILG-ARMM and DSWD for a total of 12 men and 10 women participants.
The participants were especially equipped in the area of WaSH intervention during emergencies, focusing on emergency measures in providing proper water, sanitation and hygiene solutions in Evacuation Centers or other displaced communities. Trainers come from DOH, Save the Children and A Single Drop for Safe Water. The training in Capiz is funded by Financial Enablers Project and the training in Capiz is funded by UNICEF.
The Local Government Unit of New Bataan continues to execute its Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Development Plan with the ground breaking for a new water system on August 18, 2016 at 9 00 AM in Barangay San Roque. The water system will supply a targeted 11,800 residents of the barangay, to be completed by November 2016 at a cost of Php 11,723,106.00. . The Plan developed in 2014 with the assistance of A Single Drop for Safe Water inc. (ASDSW) prioritized projects to meet the Water and Sanitation needs of typhoon affected communities and actively sought resources. Current Mayor Geraldford N. Balbin said “We are very grateful for the effort and assistance of ASDSW and the LDS Charities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for responding positively to our proposal. This project will surely touch the lives of the NHA housing beneficiaries, knowing that water is life.” Latter Day Saints Charities agreed to supply materials and other essential services to augment funding from the Local Government Unit to construct the water system.
This system will be managed by San Roque Water and Sanitation Association (SANROWASA) that has managed an existing Barangay Water system since 2014 for 120 households. As part of the project, ASDSW (A development organization that develops customized programs to help communities realize that water and sanitation is a basic human right while building capacities in LGU’s and service providers for effective water and sanitation service delivery) will continue its partnership with the LGU and SANROWASA to strengthen the management capacity of the project’s operation and maintenance group upon its completion, and ensure efficient water service delivery. ASDSW Executive Director Kevin Lee says “New Bataan demonstrates that Water and Sanitation is about people, not infrastructure. A proactive local government with participative planning has followed through, with tangible results that will improve the quality of lives in its constituency”.
The Local Government Unit through its Municipal WaSH Task Force headed by former Mayor Lorenzo L. Balbin Jr. spearheaded the planning effort in partnership with ASDSW to develop the strategic plan, project design and proposal. Mr. Jairus Perez, Welfare Project Manager of the Latter Day Saints Charities quotes “We are grateful and excited to be part of this worthy clean water project in San Roque, New Bataan. LDS Charities’ goal is to help those in need. Our mission is to help others as God would have us do. We try as much as we can to relieve suffering. We support programs that meet specific needs and encourage self-reliance, service, and sustainability. We encourage beneficiaries to participate. I can see that this New Bataan project meets all these objectives.”
A Single Drop for Safe Water, Inc. (ASDSW), the municipality of New Bataan, San Roque Water Service Association (SANROWASA) and the Latter-day Saints Charities signs Memorandum of Agreement for the construction of a Level III Water System in Compostela Valley.
On June 9, 2016, the four (4) parties signed a memorandum of agreement in Manila: Latter-day Saints Charities (LDSC) as the donor, A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW), Inc. as project technical implementer in collaboration with the municipality of the New Bataan and the San Roque Water Service Association for the systems operation and maintenance. The project aims to benefit 2,360 households with 11,800 individuals in the relocation site for families affected by Typhoon Pablo in 2012 and will be implemented from July to October 2016.
LDSC is a non-profit domestic corporation while ASDSW is another non-profit organization specializing in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. SANROWASA on the other hand is a local water service association which was previously trained and capacitated by ASDSW to manage a small water service operation.
New Bataan was among the municipalities heavily devastated by Typhoon Pablo in December 4, 2012. Two (2) Barangays namely Bgys. Andap and Cabinuangan, were severely damaged and affected families need to be relocated. ASDSW will strengthen and capacitate SANROWASA officials to formulate and put in place sustainability mechanism for this much bigger systems operation and maintenance. The MLGU, through its Municipal WaSH Task Force will serve as the oversight body for the project.
This project is the result of the Local Government Unit’s development planning for the Water and Sanitation sector and their implementation of governance structures to support WaSH within their recovery and development planning efforts. The project will be implemented for 4 months, from July to November, 2016.
UNICEF, being an active partner of the Government of the Philippines and civil society in achieving the Millennium Development Goals granted funds anew to A Single Drop for Safe Water to continue gains achieved in the provinces of Capiz, Sultan Kudarat, the ARMM Regional Hub in Mindanao and the National WaSH cluster. The new partners’ cooperation agreement focuses on institutionalizing the Phased Approach to Total Sanitation (PhATS) in these vulnerable regions and working with the ARMM Regional government in strengthening governance linkages, capacity and policy development, in conjunction with National government Agencies.
ASDSW has been working in central Mindanao since 2007 particularly in WaSH governance. Work in Capiz started in 2014. . Since then, governance situation in these provinces has significantly changed with the LGUs prioritizing WaSH, crafting their WaSH governance programs and providing funds for WaSH projects and activities.
Leveraging on WaSH gains from previous projects, ASDSW will continue to work in institutionalizing PhATS and assisting the LGUs to formulate strategic WaSH development programs to include WaSH in Schools and Child Development Centers, working with the Department of Education, attaining higher level of implementation for rural sanitation, working with the Department of Health for certification and verification of Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) barangays, while at the same time supporting capacity and policy development for LGUs in terms of governance, demand creation and supply side interventions for WaSH.
The Mindanao project will be implemented for 12 months and covers the municipalities of Lebak and Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat. The project in Capiz will cover all the 16 municipalities and Roxas City, working from the municipal and the provincial level of governance and will be implemented for a period of 9 months.