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March 27, 2012, Koronadal City – A total of eighty eight (88) people attended the Province Wide Knowledge Sharing and WASH Form, representing ARMM, Maguindanao Province, municipalities, partner organizations, and guests.
From the regional level, the Vice Governor of ARMM was present together with her technical team. While at the Provincial level, the PPDC and heads of Provincial Planning and Development Office came and supported the activity. At municipal level, present were Mayors, Municipal engineers, MPDCs, and other LGU representatives. Government line agencies participated as well, such as DOH, IPHO, RPDO, DILG. Representatives from the peace-keeping forces such as PNP and AFP also attended.
Funders, international and national organizations were also present such as Oxfam, ICRC, UNDP, Zuellig Family Foundation and SHIELDS.
Local NGOs were also present such as UNYPAD, MERN, MAPAD, CEMILARDEF, Kadtuntaya Foundation, CMYC, MCDUI, MTB, MWDECC, BMWFPDAI, and KFPDAI. Religious organizations also graced the occasion such as the National Ulama Council of the Philippines (NUCP) and Noorus Salam. Noteworthy to mention was the presence of the community representatives who shared their experiences and stories on how WASH impacted their lives. Below is a detailed list of participants. Excluded in this list are security personnel by the local leaders, who are more or less 50 individuals
II Welcome Remarks
Mr. Kevin Lee, Executive Director of A Single Drop for Safe Water gladly welcomed the participants to the Provincial Knowledge Sharing and WaSH Forum. On his message, Mr. Lee gave appreciation on the efforts of Government Line Agencies and Non-Government Organizations in building the capacity, awareness, and infrastructures on WaSH.
Talking about development issue, Mr. Lee discussed why everyone should give attention on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. First, he mentioned that WaSH is not just about water system or toilets. WaSH entails governance, culture, religion and spirituality. It also talks on children who easily acquire water-related diseases and women who took the burden when everyone else is sick. And most importantly, WaSH also talks about poverty alleviation.
“WaSH generates wealth. If we are sick, our money is reduced as well as the income generation capacity” Mr. Lee said. However, he let the people realize that if we work on WaSH within the community, we can generate at least Php 600/year/person. It may not be a big amount of money but if we add it together for one barangay, it will produce at least Php 600,000 per year. This amount can be used by the community for shelter, education, and food.
Furthermore, Mr. Lee challenged the decision makers present in the WaSH Forum. He said “It is now time to see what has been done, what is needed, and what will be the resources available. The province of Maguindanao is rich in different resources in which the government can easily implement programs on WaSH. With this, there will be a big capacity for Maguindanao to implement Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. Thus, if we will be able to link together all of these resources, we can certainly improve WaSH in Maguindanao”.
II WASH IN ISLAMIC CONTEXT
Ustadz Esmael W. Ebrahim, Commissioner of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos discussed Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Islamic Context. Ustadz Ebrahim emphasized that the issue on WaSH is not a new subject matter in Islam. It is a comprehensive topic that had been discussed even before the creation of this world. It was also stressed that without water, there would possibly be no life. Water is of profound importance in Islam, Ustadz Ebrahim said. Water is considered a blessing from God that gives and sustains life, and purifies humankind and the earth. Water occurred sixty three (63) times in the Holy Qur’an. Also, according to the Qur’an, the most precious creation after humankind is water. It is an essential need in life since men cannot survive without water.
Ustadz Ebrahim quoted verses from the Holy Qur’an that deal with importance of water. One of these verses was, “The key to Paradise is Prayer and the key to Prayer is purification”. Ustadz Ebrahim mentioned the relevance of this verse to water since the key to purification is water. Without water, Muslims will not be able to purify themselves and perform Salah (Obligatory Prayer). This also shows the major part of water in the belief of Muslims. According to Ustadz Ebrahim, these quoted verses from the Holy Qur’an were evidences that water in the lives of every Muslim individual is a necessity. It does not deal only with physiologic needs but it also pays attention on its purpose in purification. “We cannot live without water and we cannot also do our responsibilities as Muslims without water”, Ustadz Ebrahim mentioned.
Furthermore, according to the Shari’ah Law, water is divided into four kinds. The first kind is Mutlaq Water which is simply the natural waters found in this world (i.e. Rivers, Lake, and Sea). Mutlaq water is pure and can be always used for ablution but it is not allowed for drinking. The next kind is the used water for purification. After ablution, the water used can be reused as long as its cleanliness is maintained. Another kind of water is water mixed with pure elements which is a good source of water. And lastly, the fourth kind is water mixed with impure elements such as dead animals, pig’s meat, blood, emesis, urine, excrement, alcohol and dogs. This kind of water was sub-divided into two: first, if impure substances are present in the water and these substances alter the colour, taste, and odour, then it cannot be used for purification (Ibn al-Munzhir and Ibn al-Mulaqqin). However, if an impure substance is present but it has not altered the water’s taste, colour or odour, such water is considered pure and may be used for purification.
“Guard against the three practices which invite people’s curses: evacuating one’s bowels near water sources, by the roadside and in the shade” (Abu Dawood). According to Ustadz Ebrahim this hadith (saying of Prophet PBUH) clearly explains proper promotion of sanitation in which Islam also prohibits people in defecating anywhere and the usage of toilets and comfort rooms is obligatory in Islam. Moreover, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Cleanliness is half of faith“. This is another statement served as evidence that Muslims should have proper hygienic measures for it is relevant in one’s faith. Lastly, it was strongly emphasized by Ustadz Ebrahim that Allah (SWT) said “Do not put your selves into destruction”. People now have knowledge and awareness about issues on WaSH, they now know how to detect contaminated water. Therefore, anything that may cause harm in one’s self should be avoided.
III MAGUINDANAO WASH SITUATIONER
Dr. Tahir B. Sulaik, Provincial Health Officer, IPHO Maguindana, presented the WASH situation in the province of Maguindanao. He first gave a brief description of Maguindanao being the largest of the provinces having a land area of 5,425 sq. km. The total population of Maguindanao as of 2011 was 976, 300. Ninety percent (90%) of the population are Muslims and the rest are Christians and Indigenous People. Decision making lies on the male head of the family which resulted to majority of families are patriarchal in nature. Still, majority believes that abundance of children in the family is a blessing from Allah. The Maguindanao has only 69% literacy rate.
Dr. Sulaik also mentioned that the province faces both man-made and natural calamities forcing the populace to vacate their homes.
He quoted the 1987 Philippine Constitution which the IPHO strives hard to achieve “Health is a right of every Filipino citizen and the State is duty-bound to ensure that all Filipinos have equitable access to effective health care services”. Afterwards, Tahir B. Sulaik presented the organogram, vision and mission of IPHO showing the uniqueness of its services. Health facilities and human resources were also presented with exact figures. According to the presentation, more than 50% of the Barangays in Maguindanao have no Barangay Health Station. “IPHO was determined to walk the talk”. Dr. Sulaik also took the opportunity to congratulate the municipalities which has achieved 100% immunity. These were Sultan sa Barongis, Datu Paglas, Buluan, Mangudadatu, GSKP, Parang and 2 more.
One (1) rural sanitary inspector ideally should serve 20, 000 persons, but in the present situation in Maguindanao one (1) sanitary inspector was serving 69,735 persons. There are only fourteen (14) Sanitary inspectors and they are the ones who are primarily in charged on WASH, hence, affect the WASH situation in Maguindanao. Although the human resources is lacking, the IPHO organized groups to complement with this issue, such as Community Health Action Team (CHAT), Women Health Team, traditional birth attendant, households and BHWs.
The effect of WASH in Maguindanao can be manifested in the current health status in Maguindanao. As of 2011, Diarrhea ranks 4th and 5th in the leading causes of illnesses and deaths, respectively. Diarrhea ranks first (1st) as the leading cause of infant death due to dehydration, which is a great burden to the communities.
Health and sanitation programs are being given emphasis by IPHO on Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) where WASH has a crucial role. Other programs include Control of Diarrheal Diseases, Deworming for the waterborne diseases, Dengue Prevention and Control Program, Malaria Prevention and Control program, Schistosomiasis Control Program, Filariasis Control Program, Food and waterborne Disease Control Program, Environmental Health and Sanitation, Disease Surveillance, and Health Emergency Management.
Dr. Sulaik also presented the gaps and challenges regarding governance, financial support, and partnerships. He was thankful to ASDSW because of the Water Quality Monitoring being started in all municipalities and IPHO will go deep into the barangay levels. Before ending his message, Dr. Sulaik encouraged strengthening partnerships among stakeholders and to having an intense collaboration with the local executives.
IV PRESENTATION OF THE PROJECT: INSTITUTIONALIZING WATER QUALITY MONITORING IN MAGUINDANAO PROVINCE
Ms. Noraida S. Chio, Program Manager of ASDSW and Engineer Abo Khair P. Dalama, WaSH Focal Person of IPHO- Maguindanao, presented the project details and its accomplishments. At the onset of the presentation, Ms. Chio showed gratefulness and appreciation to the sectors involved in the project such as UNICEF, IPHO, and the Provincial Government of Maguindanao.
The objectives of the project were presented as well as the activities conducted in implementing the WQM Project. Engr. Dalama discussed the activities involved for the completion of the WQM Project. First, a coordination meeting with IPHO-Maguindanao was conducted to acquire full support and participation by the said institution. This was followed by courtesy call in thirty six (36) municipalities of Maguindanao to ensure proper coordination with the Local Government Unit (LGU). Engr. Dalama also mentioned the Jal-TARA Training of the ASDSW Staff to be more competent in providing services regarding water testing. This training was facilitated by one of the inventors of Jal-TARA Kit. Several activities followed such as Clustered WQM Training and On-site Coaching for 36 municipalities of Maguindanao. Project monitoring and Knowledge Sharing also occurred to ensure continuity of interventions and tracking of activities. And most importantly, Engr. Dalama emphasized the development of database as part of the activities of the project, where all WQM results are stored.
Every activity during the implementation of WQM Project has been a strong point in making the project successful. Ms. Chio presented the highlights of the project in order to update every sector involved and to inspire and encourage all LGUs to exert more effort in sustaining the project. Also emphasized was the counterpart of all municipalities in terms of food, transportation and venue during community-based activities. These efforts of both Local Government Unit and Rural Health Unit were indications that each concerned sector supported the project. Also, the 36 municipalities in Maguindanao implemented actions during on-site coaching more than what was indicated in their plans during the clustered training, a clear manifestation of interest and eagerness of LGUs and RHU personnel.
The success of the project was not only attributed to LGU and RHU’s effort. Community members in all municipalities also played a major role in the project. Communities appreciated the information they acquired on the quality of their water. Some even went to RHUs to check the result of their source. Upon knowing the results, interventions were done by each concerned individual. Also, it was strongly emphasized the contribution of local leaders or the Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU) in assisting the WQM team in gathering data within their area. In addition, the number of sources tested and trained personnel were mentioned by Ms. Chio. She gave an accurate data of 1,449 major water sources tested in 36 municipalities under this project as compared to 200 targets. .
In every project, we cannot escape issues and challenges. Ms. Chio then shared trials encountered by the WQM team. One of these issues was some municipalities has no Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) which cannot guarantee sustainability of the project and others has no sanitary inspectors who are expected to continue the testing. In addition, some results of the tests were only given to barangay leaders and not directly to the users of water sources. This resulted to non-transmittal of results to everyone using tested sources. Another issue was on some communities that do not recognize the significance of safe water for drinking. However, these challenges did not serve as hindrances in doing tasks during project implementation. It even made the team more eager in performing their responsibilities.
V VOICES FROM THE FIELDMR. RIZAL MANJARES, Bio-Sand Filter (BSF) User, Guindulungan Municipality
“Move on, and be positive.” This was what Rizal Manjares emphasized. According to him, we have the capacity to stand with our own. He mentioned that in Guindulungan, Talayan, DAM, and Talitay, water sources are mostly contaminated with E. coli. When Bio-Sand Filter (BSF) came, it was a miracle according to him. “A lifetime partner” was how he described the BSF because of improving the quality of their lives. “Prevention is better than cure,” and that’s what the BSF did. He relayed a story of one of his co-workers who has a sick child because of diarrhea. When the BSF was introduced, it became the solution to the contaminated water they have in their areas.
Ustadza Anisa T. Arab related how WASH affects life of women. She relayed the relationship of WASH and women in terms of education, health, safety, women empowerment, medication and purification. Women and girls bear the burden of fetching water which resulted to tardiness and missing out in school. For pregnant women, some of them have sanitation-related hookworm infections that pose a considerable health burden in developing societies.
Without access to latrines, many women and girls become ‘prisoners of daylight’, daring to relieve themselves only under the cover of darkness. This put them at risk of physical attack and sexual violence. Women and girls will have to travel far to obtain water, which can expose them to danger. For medications, mothers need water to relieve her sick child but the water must be potable to avoid the aggravating illnesses. In Islam, water also has a vital role in purification. It is also very important in praying to ensure the cleanliness of clothes and praying area.
Ustadza Arab added that women are not strong physically. In planning of putting up a source, the physical condition as well as needs of women who are the one fetching the water should be considered. Cooperation within different sectors such as Muslim religious leaders, LGUs and NGOs is very important. There are evidences showing that water and sanitation services are generally more effective if women take an active role in the various stages of the implementation.
One of the voices we heard from the field was by Mr. Donny Limba, owner of an improved dug well in Mother Kabuntalan, Maguindanao. He shared an inspiring message which talked about experiences on using unprotected dug well and the effects after the improvement of dug well with the help of ASDSW.
Major source of drinking water in Barangay Ganta, Kabuntalan, Maguindanao was an unprotected dug well. Most of the community members, especially the children, were utilizing the said dug well. However, Mr. Limba said they were uncertain on the safety of the source since most of the people were not conscious on the cleanliness of their drinking water. But a project was implemented in their barangay to improve the unprotected dug well they were using. Mr. Limba extended his outmost appreciation to ASDSW because of the improvement of their dug well. Through ASDSW’s initiative, the LGU and “bayanihan” from the people in Barangay Ganta, more dugwells were improved and the community currently has a clean source of drinking water.
Another story heard was from Mr. Norodin Maisalat, Sanitary Inspector III of Integrated Provincial Health office (IPHO) – Maguindanao. Primarily, Mr. Maisalat said the major issue here is the safety of water for drinking. It is a challenge for every sector involved in the Water Quality Monitoring Project. As Sanitary Inspector, Mr. Maisalat provided strategies to disseminate information on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH). Together with other sanitary inspectors, they conducted community assemblies in the municipality of Sharif Aguak, Datu Unsay, Datu Hoffer, and Sharif Saydona Mustapha. Their advocacy was to promote safe water for drinking which help people in preventing diseases.
However, one of the issues Mr. Maisalat has encountered was lack of Sanitary Inspectors in the province of Maguindanao. There are fourteen (14) sanitary inspectors on thirty six (36) municipalities. It clearly shows that the number of sanitary inspectors in Maguindanao is not enough for the community. Sanitary Inspectors are serving more than two municipalities to serve the people. In addition, Mr. Maisalat also mentioned that safety and cleanliness of drinking water was a necessity because water is a basic need in human’s life. It was then a challenge for these Sanitary Inspectors since they need to maintain the quality and safety of water in the community. Mr. Maisalat and the team accepted the challenge and implemented actions. They started to move forward since the reasons of contamination in the municipalities of Sharif Aguak, Datu Unsay, Datu Hoffer, and Sharif Saydona Mustapha have been discovered and actions have been taken to ensure access to safe drinking water and promote proper Sanitation and Hygiene.
VI CSO AND LGU TANDEM IN CHAMPIONING WASH: THE PARANG EXPERIENCE
Suharto Ibay, Municipal Administrator of Parang shared how Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and LGU tandem in championing WASH by relating the experiences of Parang, Maguindanao on WASH. He first gave a brief description on Parang stating that Parang is a small but first class municipality. However, Parang has no existing water system. Establishments are buying water usually from water delivery trucks. Understandably, issues on hygiene and sanitation are present.
Upon hearing the ASDSW and the successful project in Aleosan, Mayor Ibay took initiative to search for ASDSW to assist in the completion of the level III water system. Construction of said water system started more than 10 years ago, and now Mayor Ibay is challenged to pursue the implementation of the project. The water source in Macasandag is capable of sustaining water at least 15 years, according to the inspection done by Kevin Lee of ASDSW.
He presented the process that the LGU Parang together with ASDSW underwent through. He mentioned that a Municipal WASH Task Force was formed and there are already people from Parang like “little scientist” who were trained on biological and chemical testing. LGU officials were also capacitated to have an active involvement in the project.
He was proud as he verbalized “Parang is unique” because it’s a first time where LGU utilized its own funds to hire an NGO to assist them on the completion of their water system. He also mentioned that on that same day, LGU together with different sectors of their community are conducting tree planting to protect and preserve their two water sources.
VII PRESENTATION OF REPORTS GENERATED FROM THE DATABASE ON WATER QUALITY MONITORING
To share sample of initial reports generated from the database was one of the objectives of the Knowledge Sharing for Water Quality Monitoring. Mr. Kevin Lee, Executive Director of ASDSW, discussed and presented the reports generated from the database. Initially, Mr. Lee asked whether WaSH is important to the development of Maguindanao or not. He emphasized that during the WQM Project, all thirty six (36) municipalities were targeted and provided immediate actions after the results were shown. These interventions were signifying development in each area. However, Mr. Lee emphasized “we were talking about long-term development issues since WaSH contribute to development. But to do development, all involved personnel should learn how to plan and mobilize resources in order to build WaSH capacity”.
He said that the province of Maguindanao achieved another development through Water Quality Monitoring. A database system has been created for the whole province to have proper storage of data collected during on-site coaching. This database was the first step of development after the project implementation. Also, the system doesn’t end after the activities done in the WQM Project, can actually see changes or updates to find out if there are improvements on the sources tested. The database also relates users from water sources in which person can see who are using such specific sources.
He further said, “we do not store data to fix water sources, instead, we will be able to find out who are the people exposed in contamination for them to prevent diseases”. Mr. Lee also emphasized that it is hoped that IPHO Maguindanao will be able to continue updating and storing data on the database to improve WaSH and to aid in providing details for planning. Also, in times of flooding or any disasters, the providers of interventions can look into the database to identify safe water sources for drinking.
Mr. Lee presented the advantages of database and actual figures on the results of on-site coaching. He also showed different charts and graphs to see the number of users, number of barangays targeted, number of sources tested per municipality and results of water tests. On the number of users, it was noted that most users were women and children. This is a good indicator since most of the funding agencies are concentrating to the burden of women encountered and children being at risk because of WaSH issues. In addition, to see the actual output of the database, Mr. Lee presented the system. He then challenged each municipality to act if they will see the levels of contamination in their municipality. Therefore, if LGUs will see high levels of contamination affecting large number of the community, they should have plans in fixing the contaminated water source.
“This database is a tool for the Province, a tool for LGUs, a tool for International NGOs to identify where you should be targeting main impacts, and also a tool for Local NGOs”, Mr. Lee stressed to the partakers. “The project Institutionalizing Water Quality Monitoring (WQM) doesn’t only tell people that their water sources were contaminated. Instead, the WQM project can help improve sources so that children will not worry on the future regarding their water quality. We have made a fantastic start”, Mr. Lee added. “But what should be done was not just to continue monitoring water quality but also to access resources in order to improve the water quality in Maguindanao”.
VIII INSPIRATIONAL MESSAGE
“Thank you very much for the great work done”. This is how Tim Grieve expressed his utmost gratitude and appreciation to ASDSW, partners, IPHO, municipal and barangay representatives and to the communities. He also mentioned his appreciation to ASDSW for having a great coverage of 36 municipalities with great outcome using a little investment.
Tim Grieve discussed the importance of addressing WASH as a prerequisite in reducing poverty. He stressed the need to continue invesing in WASH Governance and capacity building and the need of multiple investments from multiple stakeholders to upscale good WASH programs (LGU, NGAs, communities, private sectors, and financial institutions). He shared that the global target for drinking water have been met, in which 2 billion people have access to safe drinking water since 1990. He also presented a chart which shows the trend for Sanitation in Philippines – JMP 2012 stated that the access to improved toilet in Maguindanao is 43%.
Before ending his speech, he again appreciated the program for being progressive and for giving the people of Maguindanao basis on deciding for their investment on their future and government.
IX KEYNOTE ADDRESS
She was thankful that despite her busy schedule she was present and witnessed this important event. She verbalized that she had seen the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene. She encouraged the support of LGUs and thankful to the partners from international communities. She mentioned that there is no reason not to support program like this because there is 20% funds for development programs from the IRAs. She encouraged collaboration with DOH, to Dr. Tahir Sulaik regarding health services.
In behalf of the Provincial Governor of Maguindanao Hon. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, Mr. Dave Utto presented the message of the governor. Before the presentation started, Mr. Utto extended Governor Mangudadatu’s apology for not being able to attend the forum because of health issues. However, the governor still extended his support in giving his message through Mr. Utto. The message talked about the importance of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. Having safe water is essential in everyone’s well-being. However, poor sanitation and hygiene are culturally attributed, but, these are contrary to Islam. Governor Mangudadatu quoted a saying of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) which says, “Cleanliness is Half of Faith”, which indicated that if a person is impure, faith will not be accepted.
“We believe water, sanitation, and hygiene are essential to health”, Governor Mangudadatu emphasized to his message. This the reason governor already signed an Executive Order creating a Provincial WaSH Task Force. “Through this, we can ensure effective implementation of WaSH and enjoin all Local Chief Executives (LCE) to prioritize WaSH”. With this, Mr. Utto extended gratitude from Governor Mangudadatu giving emphasis on the effort made by A Single Drop for Safe Water in organizing the Water Quality Monitoring. Also, the office of the governor conveyed his appreciation to UNICEF on the support to development, protection, and survival of children in Maguindanao.
Fatima O. Salik
Zuhaira U. Ebrahim
Junior Facilitators/ A Single Drop for Safe Water