Coastal Village Gets Clean Drinking Water through DSWD's Kalahi-CIDSS

It seemed like the greatest irony: for an area surrounded by water to have lack of access to drinking water. Yet that was exactly the biggest problem of Pagao, a coastal village in Bombon, Camarines Sur.

Fifteen kilometers away from its town proper, Pagao remains afflicted with poverty, being the only community in Bombon that is geographically distant from the other other villages. The easiest way to reach it is by taking a “habal-habal” (passenger motorcycle). Even then, the motorcycle will need to pass through another town before reaching Pagao.

However, the distance was only one of the problems encountered by the residents of Pagao. Despite being rich in natural resources, Pagao remains steeped in poverty. Mainly comprised of nipa-makers, farmers, and fishermen, the high spirits of these industrious people have slowly depleted because of their long-term struggle against scarcity even for the most basic services, including safe drinking water.

Amy Britanico, one of the residents, described their experiences. The villagers needed to go to the neighboring town of Calabanga to buy potable water, which costs Php30-35 per container. Aside from purchasing water, they also had to spend for the round-trip transportation expenses: Php10 per container and an additional cost of Php15 for the fare of the owner. Those who cannot afford the additional expenses Had to take a two-kilometer bike ride, and there were even those who were forced to walk if they had no other means of travel. The latter group’s journey was even more difficult on the way back, as they needed to carry back the full containers to their homes.

It was not uncommon for children below five years old get sick because of unsafe drinking water. As a result, households spend even more money for medication.

The numerous expenses due to their lack of access to clean drinking water led to them spending a large portion of their income for this, not to mention their time.

Convergent efforts

In 2012, the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integarted Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) Project of DSWD initiated the progress they have long sought for. With the grant of 1,023,926.00 from the Kalahi-CIDSS donor, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Pagao finally had something to capitalize on.

With their determination to solve the root cause of poverty, the residents of Pagao voluntarily involved themselves in the activities and processes introduced by Kalahi-CIDSS. Their reason for their involvement was simple; they needed the help they could get from the Project.

Harayo talaga ang tigakuhaan mi ning inumong tubig [The source of water is really far]” Jose Camalla, a Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteer, simply said.

Jose was one of the residents who became inspired to volunteer in Kalahi-CIDSS because he wanted to seize the rare opportunity offered by the national government to address their needs.

Despite the bulk of work demanded from the volunteers, Jose, with the others, were motivated to reach their goal – finally having access to potable water.

The people of Pagao found a way to build a partnership with Calabanga Water District (CAWADI). Through the collective efforts of CAWADI, the local government unit (LGU) of Bombon, Kalahi-CIDSS, and the people of Pagao, they were able to tap the water supply from another neighboring community. 

The nearest water source is in San Bernardino, Calabanga. CAWADI was more than willing to extend their services to Pagao because they can also reach another 38 households in Carigsa, Magarao.

CAWADI also helped Pagao by providing technical assistance and capacity building to the Kalahi-CIDSS volunteers. They assisted in the fabrication of pipes and calibration of water meter during its construction. They also trained women laborers in pipe laying.

To support the sustainability of the tap stands, two plumbers and one meter reader were chosen from the residents to attend the on-the-job training in CAWADI for free.

Twelve water tap stands are now operational in Pagao, catering to 102 households.

Future plans of the community


Access to potable water. A longtime dream in the coastal community of Pagao, Camarines Sur. This was funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through the Kalahi-CIDSS Project.

The people of Pagao strived hard to make their dream come true. But the community has another great hurdle to leap: the stewardship and ownership of their water system subproject.

The Pagao Waterworks and Sanitation Association (PAWASA) was formed to operate and maintain the water tap stands. Jose and Amy, both volunteers, are members of the operations and maintenance group.

Both Amy and Jose pledged to implement an organized system to maintain the community project. They established rules and regulations for the community-consumers to follow to ensure that their water system will be well taken care of.

The community also designated one collector for each tap stand, which serves ten households. For every container with a tariff of Php3.00, 50 centavos is paid to the tap stand collector.

PAWASA will be responsible for the payment to CAWADI, which will be taken from the collection of the tap stand collectors; savings left will be for other operation and maintenance expenses. Financial reports will be posted monthly in the barangay and an accountability reporting will be done biannually for transparency.

Though CAWADI has provided Pagao a 24/7 water supply, they  agreed that fetching of drinking water will be done twice daily: 5-7 in the morning and 4-6 in the afternoon.

Dakul naukudan mi sa mga trainings na inagihan mi sa Kalahi-CIDSS lalo na sa pagpatrabaho ki proyekto. Magagamit mi ini sa pagpadalagan kaining water system para mantinido ang operasyon kang samuyang proyekto [We learned a lot from the trainings in Kalahi-CIDSS, especially in running a project. We will be able to use the knowledge for the operations of our community project],” Jose said.

What is Kalahi-CIDSS?

Kalahi-CIDSS is a community-driven development (CDD) project in the Philippines which strongly advocates the involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of development projects to address the issue of poverty in the country. CDD is a globally recognized strategy for achieving service delivery, poverty reduction, and good governance outcomes. It aims to improve local governance by employing the participation of the people in the communities in the development process.

Community residents consensually decide on what type of poverty-reduction projects they prioritize for funding based from the collective analysis of their needs. Community proposals can vary from public goods/access projects, enterprise or livelihood projects or human development projects.

 It is one of the core social protection programs of DSWD along with Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).