Iloilo’s zero open defecation program is PH’s best governance practice
ILOILO CITY – The Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) program of Iloilo has been included in the roster of best governance practices in the country, giving the province its first Galing Pook Award in a ceremony held in Pasay City on Thursday afternoon.
The province’s “Mobilizing Communities through People-Centered Zero Open Defecation Movement towards a Sustainable Sanitation in the Province of Iloilo” entry was among the 10 of 17 finalists that hurdled the rigorous screening for the award.
Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief, Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon, said the program is worth replicating across the country, quoting Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. and former Secretary Mel Sarmiento who led the awarding of winners.
“We are a big province. We have 1,721 barangays and 43 local government units (LGUs) and yet we are the first-ever in the country to have achieved zero open defecation. They said it should be replicated in the whole country. We have inspired them,” Quiñon said in a media interview on Friday.
She said the province has only allotted a small amount of PHP5 million for the program per year, but it has become a movement because there is ready mobilization, and everyone embraced the vision of having ZOD.
“The people cooperate because they saw it as bringing back their dignity. Sometimes, we thought it was basic to have a toilet, but for those who could not afford it, it is a luxury,” Quiñon added.
Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., in a previous interview, said the ZOD program has two components – the behavioral adjustment and the capital interventions of the province.
In the capital intervention, the province’s PHP5 million annual budget for the program was spent on toilet bowls, cement, and pipes, which were given to target recipients whose counterpart was the labor component.
The provincial government also made sure that there was a water system in waterless areas.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) introduced ZOD to the province after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Barangay Bariga in the municipality of Banate was the first village to be certified as having a ZOD status in 2015, while San Enrique was the last town to achieve the ZOD status upon verification of the compliance of its 28 barangays in 2022.
Iloilo province was conferred with the ZOD Grade 1 (G1) status on Nov. 18, 2022.
Quiñon said they are now working to achieve the Grade 2 (G2) status.
“G1 allows one toilet for every 15 members. This time, we will push that all households should have their own toilet,” she added.
Using the PHP5 million annual allocations, she said they would provide toilets to sharers.
Defensor has also allocated funds to establish five restrooms in strategic locations in the municipality.
“I think we are now ready for Byaheng G2,” she said.
The Galing Pook Awards, since it began in 1993, has recognized more than 330 LGU programs from at least 200 LGUs in the country that have been promoted for replication to benefit more communities. (PNA)