Science and Environment

Remote Surigao households get access to clean water

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Dayjo, a carinderia owner, was close to shutting down her small business due to unstable water supply, in the process risking the jobs of her staff, the schooling of her children, and the daily needs of her family.

Like Dayjo, residents of Cagwait municipality in Surigao del Sur would struggle to get clean water for their households especially during the dry season. Unfortunately, the local water concessionaire could not deliver enough water to the community, so residents had to collect rainwater, treat murky water from artesian wells, and carry buckets of water into their homes every day for their daily water needs.

Cagwait, an agriculture-based community, relies heavily on water. The municipality produces rice, coconut, corn and other cash crops, and vegetables. The water needs of the agricultural and other economic activities of the municipality are served by the local utility, Aras-asan/Unidad Rural Waterworks & Sanitation Association Inc. AURWSA in turn sources the water from Tambacan Creek and Tabon-tabon Creek, which have a combined capacity of only 315 cubic meters – inadequate to serve the needs of Cagwait’s two barangays.

The Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), together with the Coca-Cola Foundation, started to work with AURWSA in 2007 to develop another water source by the Camuning Creek, a body of water upstream of the Tambacan creek to stabilize Cagwait’s water supply and expand their services to another community, Barangay Tubo-Tubo, which covers more than 500 households. PEF also helped AURWSA repair and build additional infrastructure to the water system, including a mini dam, filtration box, transmission and distribution water pipes, main meter, valves, chlorinator and water tanks. AURWSA’s new water system can now serve the needs of the community for another 10 years.

Apart from upgrading the communities’ waterworks, PEF provided installation and training for billing and accounting systems, entrepreneurship management, and water quality management to AURWSA’s management and personnel.

With an improved water system, AURSWA has taken the additional step of conserving the watershed. They have held regular activities that center on forest-farming, protecting the existing vegetation, and mitigating the effects of human activity in the watershed.

With the help of PEF, at least 3,000 residents from barangays Aras-asan, Unidad and Tubo-Tubo are now assured of a safe, stable and clean water source for their homes and enterprises for the next decade.

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