With each vigorous pump, the well brings forth generous amount of water. The bucket was almost full when the teenager stopped to wipe off his sweat using the back of his hand. He told our team that he has been fetching water from the well since he came home from school.
This is the daily life of every household in Barangay Tagodtod in Lagangilang, Abra. The residents have to manually pump water for household uses. Marites Molina, a resident of the barangay, says that her family has been living without stable water supply as far as she can remember. “Nagrigat ah! (It is tough!),” she exclaimed when asked about how they manage their daily water needs.
Barangay Tagodtod, where around 358 households live, is being supplied by the municipality’s water district. However, its water supply is not sufficient to cater to the needs of every resident in the town.
According to Marites, water from the district is available for two hours only within the day. “We get to fill our water containers for two hours, but this is not enough for our kitchen, laundry, and for our bathroom needs,” she said.
When DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS was introduced to them in 2015, little did they know that their situation was about change ─ but not after going through a process and leaping through challenges.
During the first barangay assembly, Marites volunteered to join the project preparation team, where their main responsibility is to prepare the project proposal. Finally, this was her perfect chance to help end their struggle for safe and sufficient water for her community.
Marites says that preparing the project proposal was challenging. It was their first time doing it. She, however, expressed that the three-day training helped them to craft a proposal for a Level II Water System in their barangay.
Creating their own proposal was a success, but the implementation of such seemed elusive for them. The community was dismayed when they were not prioritized to implement their proposed sub-project during the first cycle of Kalahi-CIDSS. At that time, they had their first failure. Nevertheless, still, holding on with a tinge of hope, they were determined to make their proposal a reality.
Finally, in 2017 their persistence won them more than PhP 1.7 million budget to implement an electric-driven water supply system.
According to the community volunteers, the implementation of their sub-project went by smoothly and finally on February 2018, Barangay Tagodtod Electric-driven Water Supply System was completed.
Barangay Sub-project Management Committee Chair Salvador Viste, Sr. proudly told the visiting staff of Kalahi-CIDSS that the water system is already supplying over 250 households.
After care and maintenance of the water system
Completing the proposed sub-project refreshed and eased the residents of Barangay Tagodtod from their daily struggle for water. However, after the turnover of the project, the community members have to manage and maintain the water system on their own, which is even a greater task.
After a series of consultations and planning, the Tagodtod Barangay Water and Sanitation Association (TAGBAWASA) was designated to manage the operation and maintenance of the water system.
According to Viste, who is now the president of TAGBAWASA, there are obvious changes around the community after the water system started operating. “There are already vegetable gardens around the community because we can already grow them without relying on the rains,” he says. Improvement of health and sanitation in the barangay is also perceived.
As the operation and maintenance group of the water system, the TAGBAWASA has established officers and collectors to manage the project after it was turned over to them.
“We started from zero (budget), but we were able to start the operation [of the water system,” he shared. The organization collected 20 pesos membership fee to have a start-up budget to finally start operating their water system. As of November 2018, members of the association increased from 218 to 255. It is expected that the remaining households in the barangay will join the association soon.
Since the water system started operating, the association recorded at least PhP 22,000.00 pesos collection per month.
Further, the water system generated employment for the community members as officers and collectors as well as meter readers are receiving honorariums of at least 500 monthly.
The association also works closely with the Barangay Local Government Unit to improve their services. The BLGU even financed the fencing of a tank in the barangay. “Since the membership in the association is increasing, we are planning to build another distribution tank if we will accumulate enough budget,” Viste shared.
From 280 pesos monthly water bill, Marites says that after the water system in her barangay was established, she is now paying 100 pesos per month. “Our water bill decreased by 60% and we have sufficient water already so it’s really a big improvement,” she added.
From manually pumping water everyday, the people of Tagodtod now have water in their homes everytime they open their faucets. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, Jasmin Kiaso