Purok system for sustainable water supply in Cebu pushed

Marigold Lebumfacil (Banat) - September 23, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu City barangays are encouraged to adopt the “purok system” of San Francisco, Camotes island order “to create awareness in building resilience to have a sustainable water supply”.

Former San Francisco mayor Alfredo Arquillano said there is a need to have a system to achieve Cebu City’s goal for sustainable and secure water.

“When we talk of sustainability and water security, ato gyud nang (That is our) priority. How would we sustain kung di ta sigurado sa atong tubig (if we are not sure of our water supply)? Nindot atong (This) summit kay (is good because) it’s all about resilient communities.  When you’re talking about resilient communities, household gyud na, in which we can create awareness and enabling condition for building resilience,” he said.

Arquillano was the guest speaker of the Water Security Summit at the Conference Hall of SM City Cebu the other day.

Under Arquillano’s leadership, San Francisco won the United Nations Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2011 for its community empowerment program under the purok system, which boosted the resilience of a mostly poor population.

Arquillano has since encouraged other towns of Cebu to follow the purok sytem.

“I-equip nato with knowledge and enhance adaptive capacity. Lahi gyud ikaw mismo sa imong pamilya kahibalo ka kung unsay buhaton. Dili pwede nga magsalig lang gyud ta pirmi sa gobyerno. Dihang dapita, nindot gyud nga adunay systema nga gamiton. (It is different when households know what to do. It won’t do to just rely on the government. It is on that that a system must be adopted),” he said.

He said the purok system is all about educating the people. Under the system due regular meetings in the community, there is information dissemination.

He said that because the community is organized, the leaders can make the people understand that they also have the responsibility to protect and enhance their environment.

The San Franciso purok system, according to Arquillano, is all about a micro-structure of the barangay unit bringing effective governance at the sub-village level, which is a one-of-a-kind innovation only seen in San Francisco started in 2004.

Arquillano said that they do not rely on dole-outs, but were able to sustain the system through their “capital build up” program, where the community deposits an amount agreed on by residents as initial capital for emergency purposes. This increases each puroks fluid assets for their post-disaster assistance funds.

In addition, he also implemented a solid waste management system that contributes to better sanitation and drainage and considerably reduced the risk of floods caused by clogged waterways.

The purok system is now considered as a national best practice that is also being shared with cities in other nations, such as in Bangladesh.

Arquillano, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Asia regional champion, said bayanihan, or community cooperation, is the backbone of the purok system.

Cebu City barangays Guadalupe, Buhisan, Tisa, and Sapangdaku have already followed the purok system to implement disaster risk reduction through a private-public partnership with GENVI Development Corp.— /RHM (FREEMAN)

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