The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Japanese government launched on Tuesday the largest water system in Lanao del Sur to help provide clean and safe water in the province amid the pandemic.
The ILO said the water system connects six barangays with a population of over 10,000 people, which have had limited water access for two decades.
“Water has become more valuable during COVID-19 especially for areas facing multiple burdens such as extreme poverty, conflict, and climate change. We are grateful to the Government of Japan for giving us the opportunity to take part in Mindanao’s development through this water project that creates decent work, provides safe water, and promotes peace,” said Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
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 served as the project’s implementing partner with the assistance of community contractor Katutungan Irrigators’ Association.
According to ILO, the project also ensured equal employment opportunities by engaging women in construction and planned for its sustainability through social dialogue.
Workers received wages and social protection benefits. Occupational safety and health protocols were likewise implemented.
“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 an additional initiative of peace to make progress closer to the Bangsamoro community,” Japanese Ambassador to Manila Koshikawa Kazuhiko said.
“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,” he added.
Minister Romeo Sema of the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) and chair of the Project Advisory and Review Committee led the launch and turnover of the water system to the local government and community members.
Sema said the initiative is aligned with their 12-point priority agenda to ensure accessibility to basic services and programs.
ILO believes the water system would further boost productivity since communities and farmers would no longer spend time lining and fetching clean and safe water through direct access.
The system with 69 tap stands will cover communities, agricultural areas, schools, and a birthing clinic.
“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,” Wao Mayor Elvino Balicao, Jr. said.
The local government has adopted measures to settle right of way issues, supply construction materials and financial counterparts, and would soon legislate a local ordinance to ensure sustainability.
The water system was completed at almost PHP17 million in total cost, including wages and benefits, the ILO said.
Source: Philippines News Agency