OUT of the 290 public elementary schools in Davao City, the Department of Education (DepEd) Davao City Division Health Unit identified 63 schools with no clean and potable water source.
GiftingLife member Liezel Salera on Friday, September 13, said the data was conducted during the first half of the year, wherein some schools in the city particularly in far-flung areas of Paquibato and Marilog District struggle to have access to water source.
GiftingLife is a collaborative project that implements sustainable development solutions in less empowered communities and help improve overall quality of life.
Salera said some schools belong to areas that are still not reached by water utility services such as the Davao City Water District (DCWD). She also said there are schools served by DCWD such as Buhangin and Cabantian yet these areas continue to suffer from poor water service.
"Some schools have (access) to water system. However, they are not sufficient. Some buildings only have few faucets available for accessibilities. Some have condemned water pipes wherein no water would flow into the faucets. While some have inconsistent water flow," Salera said during the Connect press conference at SM Lanang Premier.
She also said some schools have colored and foul odored-water supply while other schools rely on deep-well and water pump ("bomba” for locals), which she said is not safe for drinking and other purposes.
"It's a factor as to why some students are always absent in their classes due to the illness brought about by poor water quality. These could affect their performance in school," she said, adding that most of the students in these areas experience water-borne diseases such as diarrhea.
She also said access to clean water has been a long-time problem.
According to a 2015 study of the National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP), 55 Filipinos die every day due to the lack of clean and water sanitation.
While a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) study also shows that diarrhea and water-borne infections are the seventh leading cause of diseases, and 10th leading cause of infant deaths. The study also shows that nine percent of the total population have no access to improved drinking water sources.
Salera said GiftingLife and Force 21, a group that implements sustainable projects to the community, have been in close coordination with DepEd in a program called "Safe Water for Children", which is expected to be implemented in 2020 to six pilot schools in the city.
She said the project will include an establishment of a water purification system wherein a filtering station will be used to sanitize water from its sources such as rivers, lakes, creeks, and rain water.
"This project brings down the cost of safe drinking water per person per year to P100 from P300, or average of 30 cents per liter, which for areas without potable tap water, is a lot cheaper than current solutions," Salera said.
However, she said, the project is only a short-term solution, and the need for long-term solutions such as the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project (DCBWSP) is still the best way to address the issue on clean and potable water source.
DepEd-Davao spokesperon Jenielito Atillo said that while the data is yet to be validated and finalized, the problem needs an immediate solution since the students will be affected.
He, however, said that Deped has not yet received reports of students who were ill due to the poor water supply in their respective community.
"Diria sa Davao, wala man gyud kaayo ta'y problema pag-abot sa ilimnon. Accessible naman sa DCWD halos tanang schools nato especially sa lagyong lugar. Naa man sab water provision ug mao ginagamit na drinking water sa atong mga lumulupyo (We don't really have much problem here in Davao City when it comes to our water supply accessibility. Almost all schools are already accessed by the DCWD even in far- flung areas. There is also water provision being used as drinking water even by the residents)," Atillo told Sunstar Davao in a phone interview.
However, he said the agency will continue to monitor all school levels.
"We will communicate with the barangays. Then we will assess if there is a need to involve other offices or agencies who could help address their situation," he said.