• USAID, Coca-Cola, PBSP sign safe water partnership

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    The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has entered into partnerships with Coca-Cola Philippines and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to provide more Filipinos access to safe drinking water, a USAID official said on Wednesday.

    USAID mission director Gloria Steele said managing water resources in a sound and sustainable manner would save lives and help advance the country’s development.

    “USAID programs have a long history of using innovative advances in technology and creating partnerships with the private sector to increase water availability and quality,” Steele said in a statement.

    PBSP, USAID and Coca-cola signed a memorandum of understanding to improve groundwater replenishment, freshwater source expansion and community water access in areas covered by USAID’ Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth Project.

    The project will benefit the provinces of Leyte, Iloilo, Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental and Basilan. The project would address water security, sustainability of supply and would employ simple, low-cost and low-maintenance technology.

    Coca-cola Foundation president Cecile Alcantara said the company supports the safe return to nature and to communities the amount of water equivalent to what is used in all its beverage production.

    “Coca-Cola believes in the importance of a reliable supply of freshwater for resilient communities. Through the Coca-Cola Foundation, the Company wishes to expand the Agos Program through simple, low-cost, low-maintenance and sustainable technologies,” Alcantara said.

    She said they look forward to working with PBSP, which will share its expertise and resources to harness business sector solutions and enhance the impact of the contribution of the business sector for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

    The project, which will be implemented from 2015 to 2017, will use such technologies as groundwater infiltration wells, pavers for ground recharge, rainwater harvesting and storage, flood water diversion and storage, watershed protection and rehabilitation.

    A 2014 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) progress report showed the country surpassed MDG targets on safe drinking water but approximately 15.7 million Filipinos still lack access to safe drinking water.

    Also, water service providers struggle to keep pace with increased demand for water fueled by population growth and industry.

    Both ground and surface water sources face threats from environmental degradation, contamination from untreated industrial and domestic wastewater, and climate change.

    A study by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture revealed that groundwater, a common source of water in cities, municipalities and rural areas in the Philippines may be depleted by the year 2050.

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