Written by Elsa Frey, Green Empowerment Program Manager
Green Empowerment is currently in the midst of a project to provide clean, potable water and hygiene and environmental education to improve the health and resilience of approximately 1,000 residents of Maligue, a small village on Basilan Island in the conflict-affected region of Mindanao, the Philippines. Access to clean drinking water is key to living a healthy, productive life, yet 8 million Filipinos still live without access to clean water. Contaminated water harbors bacteria which causes harmful viruses to proliferate, causing acute diarrhea, the fourth leading cause of death among children under five. The water-related challenges confronted by poor, rural Filipinos can generally be attributed to poor or non-existent water filtration and distribution infrastructure. Without infrastructure, communities confront higher mortality rates, and households must spend hours each day retrieving water for their families.
Green Empowerment leverages a variety of locally-designed and manufactured technologies in combination with appropriate training to improve local access to safe potable drinking water, promote hygiene best practices and support the sustainability of new infrastructure and the local watershed. The project in Maligue represents an expansion of the successful five-year CREST program, which brought clean water to more than 40,000 people across five provinces in the Philippines. Maligue is a barangay (village) with a population of 200 households. The residents are Indigenous Peoples from Yakan, Tausug and Samal tribes, with migrants coming from Visayas. Before this project, they did not have access to potable water. Their primary water source was an unprotected surface spring located 200-300 meters away from the community’s center, requiring the majority of residents to spend significant time each day hauling unfiltered water to their homes to supply basic needs.
Fortunately, with the support of Green Empowerment, the situation is different now. By mid-November, our local team finished the construction of a new water system in Maligue. The system uses a hydraulic ram pump to pump water uphill to impounding tanks. Hydraulic ram pumps are powered by water pressure rather than something like a diesel generator, making this system less expensive, more sustainable, and less damaging to the environment than many other pumps because it requires no fuel and creates no emissions. After it is pumped to impounding tanks at a high point in the community, the water then flows to tap stands downhill via gravity. This system now provides water to the residents close to their homes, saving them hours of labor each day and helping them to avoid waterborne diseases.Remaining activities for this project include water quality testing, training the newly-elected community water association in water system management and providing hygiene training and promotional activities in schools. These will be completed over the next few months.
We would like to thank the International Foundation for their generous support of this project. We are also still seeking funding to provide the population of Barangay Maligue with household toilets to improve the sanitation of the community and further support the sustainability of the project. If you’d like to help with this initiative, you can donate here!