Ako Bicol to allocate P200 million for waterless areas in Bicol

Rhadyz B. Barcia
Ako Bicol to allocate P200 million for waterless areas in Bicol
Level 2 water systems will be put up in 24 waterless communities, many of them in Albay, which Rappler reported had gone waterless for 7 months in 2019

ALBAY, Philippines – Ako Bicol announced on Sunday, August 25, it would allocate up to P200 million in 2020 to serve the waterless communities in Bicol, most of them in 4 islands of Albay province.

Ako Bicol Representative Elizaldy Co said level 2 water systems will be put up in 24 waterless communities – many of them in San Miguel, Cagraray, Batan, and Rapu-Rapu in Albay – which Rappler reported had gone waterless for 7 months this year. (WATCH: Residents of island in Albay struggle to get daily water supply

For the 18th Congress, Co said Ako Bicol would be shifting its priority programs to help the region meet the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. One of those goals is to provide water to underserved barangays. 

The UN high-level panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda says 2.5 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. 

“We are grateful to Rappler for their article, showing people using motorized boats just to get drinking water at nighttime and at daytime. Women trek for several kilomters to get drinking water, and are sometimes victimized or raped for walking in the wee hours,” Co said in an interview during the turnover of two level 1 water systems in the villages of Mayon and Alobo in Daraga town on Sunday.

The systems were provided by Sunwest Foundation of the Sunwest Group of Companies.

Co also cited a Pulse Asia survey showing that “the basic problem of the people is that 80 to 90 percent go without potable drinking water. Upland areas with fewer residents are given less priority by water districts because they are considered a missionary route without income,” the lawmaker said.

Co said the budget allotted for water systems will be implemented in 2020, specifically in the areas of Barangay Cabasan, Cagraray island in Bacacay town, Barangay Hacienda in San Miguel Island, and Batan in Rapu-Rapu Island.

“For now, the Sunwest Foundation will provide level 1 water systems while we are waiting for budget release to put up the level 2 water facilities so that clean drinking water will finally flow in the houses faucets without water,” the lawmaker said.

Water woes

For Barangay Cabasan, at least P7.5 million will be allocated to provide level 2 water systems to households, including government facilities, such as the Cagraray District Hospital. 

Ako Bicol will also infuse P7.5 million for level 2 water system in Barangay Hacienda, San Miguel Island, to service the community and its neighboring villages.

Residents of San Miguel endured 7 months without water because almost all its water wells had dried up this year due to erratic weather conditions. They acquired water from the Pahuladan aquifer, a shallow well surrounded by trees located in the village of Hacienda, which they could only reach through a boat ride.

Freddie Burce, a resident of Barangay Hacienda and the chairman of the Asosasyon kan Conservanistang Paraoma asin Parasira (Association of Conservationist Farmers and Fishers), said that the Nagmuri acquifer, one of the few surviving water sources can be developed with the help of the government and some technology.

Nagmuri aquifer is located on the mountain’s cliff, where the people of San Miguel put up a bamboo called “sagurong” (pipe) to allow the water to flow. Nagmuri aquifer provides water to the people of San Miguel Island and a portion of the neighboring island of Cagraray near San Miguel. For the islanders to fetch water, however, they need to go here by boat either in the day or at night.

Arnel Garcia, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol, said that even without the dry spell, about 2.5 million Filipinos do not have access to safe drinking water.

According to the “Listahanan” or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the DSWD, 187,673 people in Bicol do not have safe drinking water, and 30% or more than 5 million Bicolanos get water from dug wells.

Masbate, Camarines Sur, and Albay had the highest number of households without access to safe drinking water, according to UN data. – Rappler.com

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