WITHOUT potable water and clean toilets, poor people will remain vulnerable to other forms of disaster.
Ambassador Marion Derckx called for greater attention from both the government and private sector to some areas that aren’t conducive to human growth, after she visited some slum areas in Cebu and Mandaue cities yesterday.
She went to Lower Sto. Niño, Barangay Inayawan in Cebu City and Lower Tipolo, Mandaue City to meet with existing and potential beneficiaries of water projects.
The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), through its Sustainable Water Fund (SWF), is funding P208 million or 55 percent of a P376-million, five-year water supply project that will benefit 80,000 of the most vulnerable people in Metro Cebu.
This partnership involves five groups: Vitens Evides International (VEI), a Dutch non-government organization; Eau et Vie or E&V Water and Life Philippines, a French non-government organization, which initiated the Tubig Pag-asa concept; the Red Cross; the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD); and the local governments of Cebu City and Mandaue City.
When Yolanda struck the Visayas two years ago, clean water and food were the most immediate needs. But the lack of infrastructure and basic services—like well-equipped public hospitals and functioning water taps—meant that poor communities were more vulnerable than others.
VEI Project Manager Patrick Egan said The Netherlands contributed US$5 million to their projects to provide potable water to the needy. The partnership was initiated in June 2014 and the project began last January 2015.
E&V Country Manager Stephane Drouillard, who supervises the Inayawan and Tipolo water projects, said they now have 388 service connections in Lower Tipolo. About 60 to 80 families more will also enjoy water from Tubig Pag-asa once their relocation site becomes ready.
Under the project, E&V also targets to serve 500 to 600 families in Inayawan, Cebu City.
Acting General Manager Noel Dalena said that MCWD will install the water pipelines and split the cost, 50-50, with Tubig Pag-asa.
While deep wells exist in Lower Sto. Nino, Inayawan, the water from them is not potable, Dalena said.
Under the Tubig Pag-asa system, each beneficiary will pay P5,000 for the service connection, materials and labor. They will pay on installment every day for 18 months.
Drouillard said that the people of Lower Tipolo have better houses with drainage compared to their counterparts in Lower Sto. Inayawan, where human and animal wastes are thrown into the open canal beside the houses.
Told about the visiting ambassador’s observations, Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon said there is a need for Metro Cebu to come up with a development plan that will include urban poor settlers.
“The Dutch ambassador is correct in her observation about urban poverty,” said Dizon, who chairs the City Council’s committee on housing.
“That’s why a clear road map for Cebu’s development should include the urban poor. The urban poor, despite their poverty, are assets and not liabilities of this city, especially when we are able to harness them properly,” he added.
Interviewed separately, Tony Pet Juanico, head of the Mandaue City Housing and Urban Development Office, said the City Government has been relocating slum dwellers to decent and permanent houses.
He said the City has identified and developed 32 socialized housing sites for about 3,000 families.
These sites include the 6.5-hectare relocation site in Barangay Paknaan for 1,200 families living along the Mahiga Creek and Butuanon River.
“Granted, there are still slum areas, but we are doing our best to relocate the people living there, and one clear manifestation of that is that we’ve identified 32 socialized housing sites,” Juanico told Sun.Star Cebu.
Juanico also said the City has donated a lot for the relocation of informal settlers. It has also provided funds to serve as bridge financing for families in the Paknaan relocation site to build their houses.
Juanico said the City has collaborated with partners like the National Housing Authority, the Social Housing Finance Corp. and the World Bank to provide decent houses to informal settlers.