Everyday, before dusk settles, 66-year old Aling Rosing walks almost a kilometer bearing empty water jugs. She stops by an artesian well, the only source for clean drinking water in her barangay. “It’s a good day today,” Aling Rosing says with a smile. “There’s water coming out of the pump.” Such simple joys make the trek back to her little hut a little more bearable. Elsewhere, children come out of their houses into the wide, expansive fields carrying similar containers. Like Aling Rosing, they too are assigned to fetch clean drinking water for their homes. From their coy smiles and carefree gait, one can sense that they have turned what is otherwise a backbreaking chore into an opportunity to play with friends.
In the island of San Miguel, in Tabaco, Albay, as in many other rural areas in the Philippines, water is still scarce resource for many of its residents. Access to clean water, for many poor rural Filipinos, has sadly become a privilege, not a right. To address the problem of water shortage in San Miguel, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, a partner of Ayala Foundation USA, teamed up with the City government of Albay headed by Mayor Krisel Lagman Luistro and Peace-USA for the Tubig sa Baryo Project. The partnership resulted in the construction of seven (7) artesian wells in select Barangays in the island.
The island, which is a 20-minute boat drive away from the city, used to depend on collecting water from rivers and lakes for their washing, cleaning, drinking and sanitation needs. In some barangays, the only existing source of drinking water is the communal faucet which flows only at midnight, if it flows at all. ” The wells reduced the number of diarrhea incidents here in our barangay,” Odon Bobiles said. As Brgy.Captain of Brgy.Hacienda, Bobiles is only too familiar with incidents of children suffering from diarrhea and other diseases due to lack of access to clean drinking water. The average family size in the island is 6 and cases of diarrhea or typhoid are common especially among children. “Before, to get clean drinking water, sometimes we had to buy mineral water in the city! Having our own pumps saves us valuable time and money.”
The Philippine Reconstruction Movement is one of the largest and longest-serving non-government organizations in the Philippines. Known for their pioneering work in rural development, PRRM is engaged in the holistic development of communities in areas such as livelihood, health and governance. Just this year, PRRM signed up to be an official Philippine partner of AF-USA. The synergy created by PRRM, the local government and Peace-USA underscores the potential for producing concrete results that can alleviate basic social ills whenpublic and private institutions just work together. The City Government shouldered the labor costs and provided technical support while PRRM and Peace-USA shouldered the cost of materials. The cost of maintaining the wells falls upon the Barangays. Should there be loose screws or leaking pipes, residents pitch in to repair them.
Still, despite the construction of artesian wells, some barangays in the island still need water wells. In the Philippines, only 63% of the entire population has access to a water supply, not all of which are actually potable. The lack of safe drinking water still remains a major cause for diseases that afflict 2 out 3 in rural Philippines.
You too can be part of meaningful, long-term solution to poverty by providing rural Filipinos with access to one of the world’s most basic necessities: water. You may participate in the construction of a water facility in a specific location in the Philippines or contribution to a PRRM fund for the development of clean water facilities.
Please visit www.af-usa.org and look for Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement under “Projects Supported” for more details.
March 8, 2014, Cocoon Boutique Hotel
Quezon City, Philippines