The US Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (Usaid) has brought together more than 150 representatives of small-scale water service providers (WSPs) in Cagayan de Oro City from July 23 to 25.
They attended the “Accelerating Water Security and Climate Resiliency among Small Water Service Providers in Misamis Oriental” conference that aims to help small-scale water service providers to better serve people without piped water in the province.
The event was organized by Usaid through its Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project in cooperation with the provincial government of Misamis Oriental.
Gov. Yevgeny Vicente Emano of Misamis Oriental and Dani Newcomb, Usaid Philippines’ Water and Adaptation team leader, delivered key messages during the opening session.
In her remarks, Newcomb said, “Access to clean, potable water is a basic human right. Lack of access has serious impacts on economic productivity and development; it is also detrimental to public health, especially in vulnerable communities. The role of the small-scale water service provider is very important in the development of the province.”
Providing clean, safe water is especially important following natural disasters. In 2011, Tropical Storm Sendong (international codename Washi), the strongest typhoon to enter the Philippines that year, devastated Cagayan de Oro City and severely impacted water systems and utilities in the area. Early this year, rising floodwaters in Cagayan de Oro’s Kabula River temporarily shut down the city’s water supply.
“I laud the initiative of the US government in designing this conference. It only shows your concern to better the water supply service of the province’s providers. This will furnish them with new inputs and strategies in advancing safe and quality water to consumers,” remarked Emano.
During the conference, participants from water districts, cooperative-run water utilities, local government-owned systems, barangay water associations, rural water associations, and private operators learned about the support they can receive and strategies they can adopt to improve and expand their systems.
They also tackled issues related to registration and regulation; designing appropriate systems; sustainable operations and maintenance; identifying and accessing financing options; and innovative ways to make water systems more resilient to storms, floods, droughts and other climate change impacts.
Attendees then participated in a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange to discover how they can enhance the quality and reach of their water supply services.
The conference finally culminated with each of the small WSPs developing preliminary action plans, which Usaid’s Be Secure Project would review for possible funding.
These efforts support Usaid’s Cities Development Initiative to promote resilient economic growth of second-tier cities and stimulate investments and inclusive development in the Philippines.