Wao, Lanao del Sur – The COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges and underscored the need for water access. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Government of Japan today launched the largest water system in Lanao del Sur that will provide clean and safe water amid the pandemic.
The water system connects six barangays (villages) with a population of over 10,000 people. These barangays have limited water access for two decades. The water system with 69 tap stands will cover communities, agricultural areas, schools and a birthing clinic.
“Water has become more valuable during COVID-19 especially for areas facing multiple burdens such as extreme poverty, conflict, and climate change,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
“We are grateful to the Government of Japan for giving us the opportunity to take part on Mindanao’s development through this water project that creates decent work, provides safe water and promotes peace,” Director Hassan added.
Under the ILO Japan Water and Sanitation Project, 263 community members were trained and hired in construction, mostly those who lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic.
A Single Drop for Safe Water, as the project’s implementing partner further supported the community contractor, Katutungan Irrigators’ Association in building the water system. Workers received wages and social protection benefits. Occupational safety and health protocols were implemented.
The project also ensured equal employment opportunity by engaging women in construction, and planned for its sustainability through social dialogue.
In addition to promoting decent work and contributing to peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the project also helped upgrade technical and financial skills of the community.
“The ILO’s first-hand knowledge and experience on the ground have been very vital. It warms our heart that the water system will serve as additional initiative of peace to make progress closer to the Bangsamoro community. We are quite pleased that opportunities for decent work and improved living conditions were provided to the locals, and proper health protocols were observed during construction,” said Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.
Minister Romeo Sema of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE), and Chair of the Project Advisory and Review Committee led the launch and turn-over of the water system to the local government and community members.
“The turn-over of the water system from the ILO and Japan manifests their vibrant support in the Bangsamoro autonomous government to make our region a better place to live in. This is aligned with the 12-point priority agenda of the Chief Minister to ensure that basic services and programmes are accessible in communities of the region,” Minister Sema highlighted.
Largely dependent on agriculture, the water system will further boost productivity since communities and farmers will no longer spend time lining and fetching clean and safe water through direct access.
The partnership also highlights the role of the local government in investing and sustaining efforts to provide basic services. The water system was completed at almost Php 17 million in total cost, including wages and benefits, and Php 3.9-million local government counterpart.
The local government further adopted measures to settle right of way issues, supply construction materials and financial counterparts, and will soon legislate a local ordinance to ensure sustainability.
“The water system is a big help and a dream come true for the community. We commit to provide funds, and institutionalize its maintenance through a local ordinance. The water system is indeed the most valuable project this year for the people of Wao,” Mayor Elvino Balicao, Jr. concluded.
For further information please contact:Ms Ma Jennylyn Aguinaldo
ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project (Cotabato)
Ms Minette Rimando
ILO Country Office for the Philippines (Manila)