Mechanisms to Achieve Goals

National Level Recommendations

  • Enforce a national level supervision system that will guide the planning and the development of wastewater systems – that is designing it for the long run, while keeping in mind the efficiency, costs, and investments of the project making body.
  • Construction of a comprehensive septage management system in the national level that would monitor wastewater systems from the private agencies to the public households, enforcing scheduled emptying of septic tanks in regular basis in hand with safe sludge disposal.
  • Ensure balance in the breadth of the investments with regards to the purpose of the projects, taking into consideration agriculture, public services, business, and recreation. This is while making sure that the priority should be given to address urban wastewater pollution prevention, which is a major contributor to this issue.
  • Revise and reinforce legal policies especially with regards to subsidizing facilities that will be beneficial to the overall mechanisms of these projects.
  • Communication and Information Dissemination to the local communities that will be a major factor in helping improve the understanding of the importance and mechanisms of wastewater management systems.

Local Level Recommendations

  • Addressing the full sanitation problems for on-site and sewage systems by having institutional responsibilities for wastewater and sanitation service delivery and preparing practical phased investment plans.
  • Collecting and gathering information to undertake assessments of wastewater and on-site systems, rainwater inflow, general water quality and adopting performance contracts with utilities.
  • Establish, enforce and promote implementation of water quality management regulations including for on-site sanitation, sludge management. Ensuring national standards for design and construction of structures like the sewage systems are followed correctly to assure the quality of drinking water.
  • Providing financial assistance to poor households, and employing financial mechanisms such as subsidies and/or micro credit funds to help other households to connect to sewers or improve onsite sanitation.
  • Clarifying the mechanism to connect to sewers, with regulations on required household financial contribution and extent of agency technical support.
  • Facilitating community communication and consultation programs to the target community. Providing evidence to communities of the benefits of connecting to sewers and providing confidence in operation of the system. Also providing information on improvement options, estimated costs and user tariffs, and on-going services including maintenance and community responsibilities.
  • Improving operations and maintenance of overall systems and particularly the tertiary network, establishing a customer service approach for improved complaints response to promote confidence in the wastewater system and customer satisfaction in service provided.

Source: https://wsp.org/sites/wsp.org/files/publications/WSP-Improving-On-site-Sanitation-Connections-to-Sewers-Southeast-Asia.pdf

Access to Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation

Sanitation and access to clean drinking water are very much intertwined with each other. For example, if we look into the case of India whose water crisis has rapidly worsened throughout the years, the path that the Philippines right now is taking is much similar to what has been happening in India. It is a country where open defecation is rampant and where dead bodies are often disposed in rivers, there is really no question how their water crisis began.

Now, going back to our country, according to a joint report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), it was found out that 7.1 million Filipinos still resort to open defecation, which is defined by the report “as when human feces are disposed of in fields, forest, bushes, and bodies of water or other open spaces.” These human wastes are then carried onto rivers, and other bodies of water. [1]

1Figure 1: http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/un-vows-to-eliminate-open-defecation-by-2025

Another report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) showed that 58% of unsanitary septic tanks lead to groundwater contamination. The WHO-UN report also added that 2.3 million Filipinos use untreated surface water from rivers, and canals. Another 6.1 million utilize water from unprotected dug wells. Furthermore, the National Nutritional Survey in 2011 found out that half of Filipino households did not even try to make their water safe. [2]

2Figure 2: http://www.rappler.com/nation/41050-sewage-problem-denr

We now see how the lack of sanitation leads to pollution of water sources and to an even bigger problem in public health. When a community disposes their human wastes into a creek and gets drinking water from wells near the creek, the residents will probably get diseases from the contaminated water. This is what happened to Annie and her neighbors during the aftermath of Ondoy [2]. Their children contracted diarrhea after drinking contaminated groundwater, which is the second leading cause of death in the country, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

3Figure 3: http://www.rappler.com/nation/41050-sewage-problem-denr

Aside from public health matters, the poor sanitation and sewerage system in the country also amounts to a Php 78 billion loss each year. The majority of the costs go to “health care, loss of income associated with the disease and the value associated with premature loss of life [3].”

The figure below shows the summary of the condition of sewerage and drinking water in the Philippines.

4    Figure 4:  http://www.unwater.org/fileadmin/user_upload/unwater_new/docs/Publications/PHL_pagebypage.pdf

Set a goal that should be achieved by our country:

Since the main root of the problem is from poor sanitation, we have to

Make it SAFE and AFFORDABLE:

  • Increase the number of households and establishments connected to sewer lines. From 10% of the population, increase to 80% by 2022.
  • 100% of newly built establishments and subdivisions must have proper sewerage systems, with the government having a hand in the subsidy for these public projects.

Make it ACCESSIBLE and SUFFICIENT:

  • Increase the number of water supply systems by increasing budget allotted to water supply. We have to create a larger network of water supply lines, enough to cover remote barangays inside and outside the Metro, especially to the slums in the Metro where majority of the pollution comes from.
  • The remaining 16% of Filipino households with no access to clean and potable water (National Statistical Coordination Board) must be addressed within six years, that is the location of the water source should be made at most 1000 meters from the household and time needed to collect not exceed 30 minutes. [4]

We just hope that six years is long enough for the new administration to solve the country’s most critical problem related to water.

 

Sources:

[1] http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/702546/millions-in-ph-dont-have-access-to-clean-water-toilets-report

[2] http://www.rappler.com/nation/41050-sewage-problem-denr

[3] http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPHILIPPINES/Resources/EconomicImpactsofSanitationinthePhils_Summary.pdf

[4] http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/hunger/61480-access-water-sanitation-philippines

Idea of Sustainability

What is sustainability?
Sustainability refers to the diversity, productivity and function of the different natural systems such that the relationship and interaction between organisms to one another with their physical surroundings remain in balance. It emphasizes the harmony between us humans and the environmental natural resources by protecting it from damage, destruction and depletion. It aims for the preservation of the natural resources for the benefit of the future generations. It is the capacity to live without depleting the resources even if one has it in their hands or is within their reach. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a person/people/community that want to attain sustainability shouldn’t touch or use their resources but they should be able to reproduce or at least replace the resources that are used. In some sense the idea of sustainability is like a personal relationship. You should connect to people without using all their resources- time, effort, etc- for your relationship to continue for a long time. Some methods should be used to maintain and save it. If you just think of the present and satisfy yourself then you cannot expect for the relationship to go for a long time, just like our natural resources. Always think of the future.

Personal Responses

What could you change in your own personal life that would mean you get more of what you really think makes your life great and may, at the same time, save resources?

“I have actually started making a difference by choosing the bike as my main mode of transportation, not only within the campus, but outside as well. For me, biking is like hitting two birds with one stone. I am able to exercise and reap many benefits associated with it like reduced stress levels. It is also a form of sustainable transportation, which when done in a collective manner, could significantly reduce pollution and traffic. However, there are times when I choose to ride a car instead of using my bike, especially in areas with heavy vehicular traffic because of the risk of getting hit by reckless drivers. One thing that I could improve is to take a more active role in advocating biking as a mode of transport and to raise awareness among people with cars and other motorized vehicles to be more biker-friendly so that more people would be encouraged to go out and bike.”

– Julie Bajado

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“I would want to change my sleeping habits and try as much as possible not to stay up late at night if it is not really necessary. Doing this would improve my performance as a student and my lifestyle in general. I would be less sleepy, and more attentive and focused in my activities. By reducing the time I stay up late at night, I would also reduce my energy consumption as I would need to use a lot of electricity at night. Also, I could share electronic gadgets with my siblings at daytime which would reduce our overall consumption of electricity.”

-Jonathan Musa

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“First of all, since I’m saving money right now, I need to start paying attentions to my bills, especially to my monthly water bill. I often left the faucet open after washing myself. I really think I need to stop doing that. Also, after washing dishes, I don’t fully close the faucet, that too should be seriously change. By doing this to save my money, I will also help conserving water and is a big help to our mother nature. Secondly, I’ll start walking more and riding less. It will help me improve my fitness and at the same time lessen the pollutants in the air. Lastly, for me to change myself, to wake up earlier, and reduce my stress level at the same time, I thought of a way that will help me. I’ll try growing some plants. I think they will help me discipline myself and reduce my stress in my studies whenever I see them grow. On the other hand, they’ll be a great contribution to the cleanliness of the air. I’m already proud of myself whenever I think picture myself watering my plants.”

-Charlotte Magtira

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“I believe that I am already making a difference by doing simple things that may lead to a greater impact in the betterment of the environment and the society. As a kid my mother taught me to conserve water by turning off the faucet when not in use, to remove electronic devices from the outlet, to keep small trashes in my pocket when there are no trash bins in sight, and also to bring reusable bags at the grocery store or at the market. From preschool to elementary, my brother and I walk to and from school instead of commuting because our school was just three blocks away from home. That simple act was a very good practice of a healthier lifestyle at an early age. It did not only help reduce air pollution but it also built good memories and stronger bond with my brother. I am glad that I have brought this habit of walking because it became very useful in college (especially here in UP!!!). It has also been awhile since I last used a plastic straw for drinking purposes. Ever since I have watched that video of a turtle undergoing an operation of some sort because it has inhaled a straw, I was deeply affected and saddened by the fact that we, humans, are the major cause of harm in our environment. I believe that in time, if we continue living a wasteful lifestyle, our natural resources will be depleted and Earth will be destroyed. I hope that by doing these small acts and imparting knowledge about the environment to others, I can help the environment so that I may still provide a healthy and sustainable life for the following generations.”

-Hannah Lou Argota

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“Time is not a renewable resource, and time is only a portion of the things that I could continue learning to manage, to say that I have reached a meaningful and exciting life. I start by making myself aware, from the little things that I am with initially up to the grand things that will come eventually. Considering that philosophy, I wish to help the environment, knowing that time is a resource that we need to carefully maximize. And I believe that that starts by promoting awareness, letting people know, maybe including you, of the current state of our surroundings and creating a solution using a sustainable mindset.”

-Diego Manansala

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