AFTER Super Typhoon Yolanda hit their fishing village on November 8, 2013, the residents of Barangay Union Coastal, Mayorga, Leyte have done their best to bounce back from the tragedy, but continue to face a problem that is out of their hands: the lack of clean water supply.
While waiting for the restoration of the damaged water sources, they get water from deep-well pumps for their household needs, including laundry but oftentimes find the water to be dirty, salty and oily.
As a response to this basic need, Surf Philippines turned-over a sustainable and environment-friendly laundry facility that recycles water for washing clothes in Barangay Union Coastal, Mayorga, Leyte for some 30 households.
“We piloted this project in this community as this barangay in Mayorga is among our beneficiaries in our ‘Perfect Community’ project, in partnership with Operation Compassion,” explained Lavin Gonzaga, Unilever’s Sustainable Business and Communications assistant manager.
Gonzaga added that the project is part of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Program (USLP) that aims to bring a brighter future to one billion people worldwide.
“We want to provide a sustainable source of clean water through this facility, and this is Unilever’s way of contributing to water sustainability and conservation, especially in an area that is still suffering from the effects of typhoon Yolanda,” she continued.
Prior to this laundry facility, Unilever also donated 20 transitional houses for the residents in the area; sari-sari stores in Barangay San Roque; and held immediate relief operations right after the typhoon.
Grateful for the help extended to one of the 16 barangays of Mayorga, which is a fifth class municipality in Leyte, Mayor Alex de Paz said at the launch of the first Surf Labahan Station, “I’m very thankful to Unilever for this project and for ‘adopting’ our town as a whole. I’m looking forward to more partnership programs to be expanded to barangays as well.”
The mayor further took pride that Barangay Union now serves as the country’s model the Labahan Station project.
Also, barangay official Lucia Mondala expressed gratitude for the facility noting how it will help many mothers in the community.
The Labahan Station has a two-stage water filtration system that can clean and recycle up to 6,000 liters of laundry water every day. It is designed to catch rainwater and in case there is not enough supply, can pump water up with the use of solar power.
Another remarkable feature of the 200-square meter facility is its flooring that is composed of pavers made from recycled Surf sachets that can accommodate 20 people.
As demonstrated during the launch, the residents are now able to get water from three faucets installed for washing dirty clothes. The water used for laundry will then be collected in a drainage system, after which a water pump will bring the collected water to the two-stage filter.
Here, the dirty water passes through mineral stones, plastic liner and fine gravel, rocks and sand to separate big particles such as soil and grease. Then the water will be filtered through activated charcoal and porous sponge to cleanse the chemical content of the detergent before it is stored in the built-in tank.
According to Kyle Sze, associate project manager of Awesome Lab, the Filipino technology provider for the laundry station, right at the initial stage of filtration, good bacteria will grow and stay to consume bad bacteria and other microorganisms from the water. So, by the time that the water goes to the second stage, the chemical content will no longer be too harmful, and can already be cleansed through simple filtration.
By the following day, filtered water is ready for use.
According to Sze, the system can clean and recycle up to 6,000 liters of laundry water every day, equivalent to 700 wash-load savings.
Surf assistant brand manager Cha Francisco noted that the project makes for an ideal learning tool on sustainable water management, which ultimately benefits both the community and environment.
“Through our partnership with non-government organization Operation Compassion, volunteers teach the community about the importance of water conservation, how water filtration works, and how to properly use the Labahan Station,” Francisco enumerated, adding that if the first Labahan Station will be successful, they can soon replicate the project in other areas.
Compassion now continue to stay in the pilot barangay to continuously help in the sustainability and maintenance of the Labahan Station.
Their aim is to assist in maximizing the water recycling system until the residents can operate it on their own.
They have also pledged to help in rehabilitating the community and in teaching the residents how to plant vegetables and fruits as a form of livelihood.
Operation Compassion is a non-government organization that has been providing shelter and livelihood assistance to the residents of Mayorga, Leyte.