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Affordable water supply extended to fire victims

CEBU, Philippines — About 700 residents who were victims of the March 2016 fire in Barangay Mantuyong, Mandaue City will now have water supply in their own houses.

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), the Sustainable and Resilient Pro-poor Water Supply Project Cebu (WatSupCebu), The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Vitens Evides (VEI), Eau et Vie (E&V) as well as The Netherlands-Red Cross, has opened yesterday the new water system intended for the 150 households within the area.

The E&V, a French non-government organization, has also installed a fire hydrant in the community, aside from the water system. They will provide firefighting training to the beneficiaries with the help of the French government.

Aside from that, The Netherlands Red Cross will also give disaster-preparedness training in coordination with the Philippine Red Cross and the MCWD.

MCWD General Manager Jose Eugenio Singson, Jr. said the initiative is a very comprehensive assistance to the communities.  Other areas in Metro Cebu will also become project beneficiaries in the future.

"It aims to empower them and make them independent, improving the quality of these people's lives," Singson said.

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For Metro Cebu, the MCWD will contribute more than P112 million while VEI will give P38.5 million as a counterpart.

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) through its Sustainable Water Fund (FWD) funds 55 percent or P208 million for the said project.  WatSupCebu is funded by The Netherlands worth $8 million or P376 million, and is a five-year private-public-partnership (PPP), which will benefit the lives of 80,000 people in Metro Cebu.

Gordon Allan Joseph, Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of The Netherlands, in a speech, said he hopes that the Dutch and French government, the MCWD and the city government will continue to support each other.

"These are the projects that make people's lives better," Joseph said.

The fire last year displaced hundreds of families in Barangays Mantuyong and Guizo.  The fire victims were temporarily housed on the grounds of the abandoned Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) last year.

VEI Project Manager Patrick Egan also thanked the groups for helping the community. He shared that they really want to connect with the barangay last February but got postponed.

Maria Estela Vasquez, the Mandaue branch manager of Tubig Pag-asa, Inc., said a collector will do a house-to-house roving to collect the payments, to avoid inconvenience on the part of the beneficiaries.

"Paagi ani, naa man tay collector na mosuroy sa balay-balay para pagkuha sa collection.  So, magdepende na unsay gusto nila, pwedeng daily, pwedeng weekly, pwede sad every other day," she said.

Vasquez said the residents would be asked to pay a minimum down payment of P650.

"Ang minimum sa down-payment kay P650 ra man, then ang collection ana is P25 a week para sa ilang connection fee. Ang down payment dala na na sa notarial, then sa connection fee. Ang connection fee, that will be composed of the 100-meter nga hose.  If beyond 100 meters, they will pay for the (excess)," she said.

The Tubig Pag-asa, Inc. will shoulder the labor expenses by tapping their own plumbers.

"Ang atong tubig kay P1 per 1liter, ang per cubic niya kay P50 kay amo pa man sad nang i-access sa MCWD pero wala na siyay other charges, wala nay taxes," she said.

Mantuyong resident Yieldez Veran, 46, who is one of the project beneficiaries, said that for more than 20 years, their family buys water at their neighbor for P3 pesos per bucket of water. (FREEMAN)

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