Negros Occidental

Women’s foundation tackles open sanitation problem in Visayas with loan program

Ambo Delilan

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Women’s foundation tackles open sanitation problem in Visayas with loan program

BACOLOD VISIT. Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus speaks to young people before the 3Zero Club annual convention in Bacolod on Monday, July 1, 2024.

courtesy of Dungganon

The foundation offers small loans to help poor families build toilets in their homes

BACOLOD, Philippines – A women’s foundation is extending small loans to poor families to address the problem of open sanitation practices in parts of the Visayas.

The Water Access, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) loan program is an initiative of the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF) or Dungganon (honorable) to support local governments in doing away with the problem of open defecation.

In Negros Occidental alone, addressing the problem of open sanitation practices remained a serious challenge for the provincial government. Records from the Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office (PHO) showed that only 18.9% or 114 out of 601 villages in the province adhered to their zero open defecation (ZOD) advocacy as of the first quarter of 2024.

Of the 32 towns and cities in the province, only two local governments – that of La Carlota’s and San Enrique’s – have passed the ZOD campaign standards as of April. 

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson rewarded the La Carlota and San Enrique local governments with P100,000 each and 114 barangays across the province with P20,000 each.

Marilyn Ostan, provincial sanitary inspector of PHO, said she hopes for continued momentum for their ZOD advocacy, encouraging more barangays to follow suit.

Raymond Patrick Serios, Dungganon assistant director, said on Tuesday, July 2, that the foundation’s WASH program offers loans from P6,000 to P12,000 to its members who want to provide their families with toilets and septic tanks. 

The loans come with a low monthly interest rate of 2.5%, according to Noelle Ibarra, head of communications and events at Dungganon.

Local governments that collaborate with the foundation have committed to provide each family P4,000 more.

Founded in 1984 by the late Dr. Cecilia del Castillo and two other women, with the help of former Negros Occidental governor Daniel Lacson, the foundation originally aimed to aid the families of women who suffered due to the sugar crisis at that time.

The foundation started with only 1,000 clients in Candoni and Himamaylan City in southern Negros Occidental, and Escalante City and Calatrava in the northern part.

Dungganon’s growth has been unprecedented over the years. In 2005, it established a bank, which later set up digital automated teller machines in 54 locations across Panay, Negros, and Cebu.

“Right now, we have 560,000 clients in the whole of the Visayas region and a large portion of Luzon, with 98% women and 2% men,” Serios said.

The non-profit organization, which primarily engages in microfinancing, was inspired by and patterned after Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank founded by Nobel Prize 2006 winner Muhammad Yunus.

Yunus, billed as the pioneer of microfinancing, was in Bacolod on Monday, July 1, for Dungganon’s 3Zero Club Convention held at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R). 

The 3Zero Club is Dungganon’s youth organization dealing with social business advocacy. The youth club’s recent beneficiaries are former women inmates in Bacolod and Negros Occidental. They are aided by Dungganon’s youth to rise above the rubble of their past and become productive citizens again.

Serios said the WASH program, which started in 2016 but gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, is their new model of a blended financing with the purpose of providing poor families with toilets and helping protect the environment.

“We hope WASH is our greatest contribution to uplifting people’s lives in the communities,” he said. –

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