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UN, RP and Spain launch Joint Programme on water services for poor Filipinos

© UNICEF Philippines/2009/Alquinto
Spanish Ambassador Luis Arias, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director General Ralph Recto, UNICEF Representative Vanessa Tobin and DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero sign a joint programme that will deliver potable water to poor Filipinos.

Makati City, Philippines – Approximately 17 million Filipinos have no access to safe drinking water. Despite the national government’s efforts to provide water, there are still 242 ”waterless” municipalities outside Metro Manila.
 
A waterless area is where water supply coverage is less than 50 per cent of the population. In these areas, provision of water supply services by the private sector may be hampered by the non-viability of these areas as well as poor policies and regulations. The lack of local capacities to manage and operate water supply systems is a setback to the sustainability of government-initiated programs to provide services in these areas.

In response to this challenge, the Government of Spain provided US$5.354 million to support the government’s initiatives to provide water services to remote areas in the country. This is through a cooperation agreement called the Philippine “Millennium Development Goals-Fund (MDG-F) Joint Programme on Democratic Economic Governance: Enhancing Access to and Provision of Water Services with the Active Participation of the Poor”.

The three-year official development assistance (ODA) will involve the UNDP, UNICEF, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The programme will improve the efficiency, access, affordability and quality of potable water services, benefiting about 122,000 households in 36 depressed barangays in five regions of the country by putting in place mechanisms and policies that will encourage more local investments in water and sanitation systems in poor barangays and by enhancing the capacities of  local governments to manage potable water facilities.

“I believe that the MDG-F Joint Programme will deliver a successful community- managed water supply that will dramatically improve lives,” Vanessa Tobin, UNICEF Representative said.

“Making potable water accessible to the poor, allows more productive time for women to engage in economic, cultural, political and social activities, enables children to go to school, and enhances the overall health condition of the people.” Tobin added.

The choice of water services among other utilities is a strategic move under this Joint Programme, significantly contributing to the attainment of the MDGs.

Responding on behalf of the Philippine government, Secretary Ralph Recto, Director General of NEDA, pledged the government’s support to the attainment of the MDGs.

"We stand ready to cooperate and work hand-in-hand with the UN to achieve the goals set under the MDG," Recto said.

The MDGs are a set of global targets aimed to improve the lives of people around the world. One of these goals and targets is to ensure environmental sustainability by reducing the number of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

 

 
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