Thursday, April 20, 2006

Water system in Sauyo urban poor community installed

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For Immediate Release on April 28, 2006

Water system in Sauyo urban poor community installed

Having regular piped water is a wonderful benefit but it is not easy to come by. For poor people like Editha N. Duazo, mother of five, it was a marvelous gift. Duazo, a resident of Area 6 Sauyo in Quezon City, usually spent P1,180 per month for water.

Now after getting piped water from Manila Water, Duazo will only pay P291. She saved 75% of her usual monthly water bill. “Kami ay natutuwa dahil malaking tulong sa amin ang patubig. Ang natitipid ko sa dating pinambabayad ko sa tubig ay pinambibili ko na ng pagkain sa mga anak ko,” she said.

Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization, heads a poor people’s water campaign to get inexpensive piped water. Most poor families usually pay two to three times the legal rate to water vendors otherwise.

Two years ago, the people’s organization, Samahang Magkakapit Bahay (SMB) sa Area 6, asked their Barangay officials to help solve the 19-year old water problem of some 800 families. Without piped water, the residents have to queue to fetch water from a deep well and buy potable water from itinerant water vendors. While a cubic meter of piped water cost only P10, the cost of a cubic meter from some other source is about P100.

However, the Barangay officials did not respond. “It was not easy to install piped water system in Area 6, the cost of the pipe going inside the area cost P2.8 Million, plus charges for the water service connection fee,” the UPA said.

The UPA offered to help them. They discussed their problems through a series of meeting with the people and then write the officials of Manila Water Company, beginning October 2005. After settling the process and the cost of application, the Manila Water personnel started excavations for the piped water system installation on November 7, 2005.

To date, a piped water system for 270 households in Area 6 has been installed. What of the other 530 families living there? It proved too expensive. “Di nakapag-apply lahat dahil marami ang kapos sa pera. Mahal ang bayad sa connection fee,” said Gemma M. Pineda, SMB auditor.

According to UPA, only 20% of urban poor people in Metro Manila have regular piped water services and everyone else gets water at exorbitant prices. “In Sauyo 1/3 of the households did get access but many residents still use expensive water sources because they cannot afford the installation fee for the water service connection, which amounts to P5,177 - P8,101 depending on grouping connections,” the UPA explained.

Former Quezon City Congressman Chuck Mathay’s water development project in four Barangays of the National Government Center Area (Payatas A, Commonwealth, Batasan Hills and Holy Spirit) has benefited thousands of poor families. Funds from the Community Development Fund (CDF) subsidized the water service connections and the residents were allowed to pay over a year instead of the usual three months.

The UPA believed that there has to be political will to solve such problem. “Pro-poor water development projects may be a partial answer,” the UPA added. -30-

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