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Filipinos Need Water & Sanitation Solution

7.5 million Filipinos still have no sanitary toilet; 8.4 million more deprived of clean potable water

Buried in the pages of “Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDGs [Millenium Development Goals] Assessment” are the findings that 7.1 millions Filipinos resort to “open defecation,” while 570,000 use “unimproved sanitation facilities,” like buckets and open-pit latrines, a senator said on Friday.

Sen. Ralph Recto said the report, which tracks access to drinking water and sanitation against the MDG, should prompt the government to increase investments for clean water and sanitation.

The report also said 2.3 million Filipinos use untreated “surface water” from rivers, dams, canals for drinking.

In addition, 6.1 million Filipinos source their drinking water from “unimproved drinking water sources” like unprotected dug wells and unprotected springs.

“This should be part of the assumption of the 2016 budget,” Recto said. The Aquino administration’s sixth and final budget, said to breach P3 trillion, is expected to be submitted to Congress by the end of the month.

In the annex of the WHO-Unicef report is the scorecard on how countries have progressed in bringing clean water and sanitation to their citizens.

“To our credit, we have made great progress on these two items,” Recto said.

“We have brought clean water to 40 million people since 1990 and 41 million Filipinos have also gained access to clean toilets since that year,” Recto added.

This prompted the WHO and Unicef to rate the Philippines as having “met target” MDGs on clean water, Recto said.

But on sanitation facilities, “due, perhaps, to the number of people resorting to open defecation, the Philippines was graded as having merely made “good progress.”

“Mas mataas pa ang family cellphone ownership rate sa bansang ito kesa toilet per household, [This country has a higher rate of family cell-phone ownership than a sanitary toilet],” Recto said.

To wipe out the backlog of homes needing piped water, Recto called “for the opening of the budget taps for clean water and sanitation projects.”

Among the ongoing projects which should get more funds next year is the construction of toilets and communal drinking faucets in public schools, a component of Basic Educational Facilities program of the Department of Education this year.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is also administering grassroots-identified water projects under the Salintubig program.

“To truly gauge how much we are spending for clean water, I think we should identify in the national budget the amounts for clean water because at present, it is lumped together with flood control,” Recto said.

For the current year, P39 billion has been earmarked for water resources development and flood control, Recto added.

“Sa madaling salita, lagyan natin ng metro ng tubig ang ating pambansang budget,” Recto said.

Recto added that the national government should embark on joint-venture partnerships with local governments in building public bathrooms and toilets to which the urban homeless can go.

Another initiative worth pursuing is to tap travel tax collections in constructing either free or pay-per-use restrooms along our highways, Recto said.

To lower the cost of sanitary toilets, the Department of Science and Technology can design an affordable, easy-to-produce package.

Recto said clean water projects must be pursued “because water-borne diseases cost Filipinos P2.8 billion annually in treatment costs and lost economic opportunities.”

Source: Business Mirror

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