Sustainable Water Supply for Negrenses

Negros Oriental – One hinterland barangay in Manjuyod has recently completed their water system community project under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Marissa Nim, who is one of the Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers of the project, has lived in Barangay Kauswagan in Manjuyod since she was born.Now 32 years old and with a family of her own, she said that walking for 3 kilometers daily to fetch water for their daily needs was a normal part of life for their community. "Sugod na sa akong mga ginikanan ug sa ginikanan sa ako ginikanan, parte na sa among kinabuhi ang magsag-ob didto sa tubod [Fetching water from the spring is already part of our lives, from my parents and the parents of my parents]", she said.

A resident of Brgy. Kauswagan fetches water from a water source located almost 3 kilometres away from their community

This water system project was implemented using the Community Force Account (CFA) scheme of the Kalahi-CIDSS, wherein members of the barangay work together to construct their community project instead of hiring a service provider. CFA allows the community to lesse the total project cost while directly contributing their resources, either through labor or local aggregates.

The community has partnered with the Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc. (EcoAgri) to provide them with trainings and support in the operation, maintenance, and sustainability of their new water system.

The foundation emphasized the importance of environmental protection to the community. "Kung ang mga tawo dili muhunong sa mga makadaot nga pamaagi ug dili magtanum ug kahoy mahurot gyud ang tubig sa reservoir [If the people do not stop on doing things that are destructible and do not plant trees then the water in the reservoir will surely deplete]", said Dante P. Escarmoso, Program Officer of EcoAgro when asked about the possibility of water shortage.

As a result of the partnership of the community, EcoAgri, and Kalahi-CIDSS, the residents developed an operations and maintenance plan, which includes a tree planting activity, wherein each household will plant and nurse five (5) seedlings at the reservoir. Since there are about 144 households who would benefit from the project, 720 new trees are targeted to be planted at the reservoir.

Maayo lang pud nga sa June nahuman ang project kay timing ig ilulan maayo sa among tree planting activity [It is nice that the project is projected to be completed in June because it is already the rainy season, which is good for our tree planting activity]", said Marissa.

During an open forum, DSWD Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat talked about the concept of community response as a more useful and insightful way to frame sustainability in the context of Community-Driven Development (CDD) interventions.

“In the context of the project, ‘sustainability’ is defined as the capacity of a community to respond to development challenges in ways that will provide continuing benefit to its members. The focus of sustainability is not only on the quality of construction but also on capacity building in the use of a certain type of technology. Without the ability of the community to creatively respond to poverty conditions, both existing and emerging, all development interventions will be placed at risk”, Director Jabagat said.

There are nine (9) water system projects currently being implemented for the first cycle of Kalahi-CIDSS implementation in Negros Oriental.