Operation Sagip

Community-Managed Potable Water Syste

Paul Christian Santiago
June 15, 2016

Jaime Sapitanan is a resident of Site 1 of Southville 7. He recalls that before the Water Consortium in Site 1 was put in place, he has to walk approximately one kilometer and endure long lines just to get drinking water for himself and his family. Some 2,800 families in Site 1 share this plight and is a required daliy pilgrimage for them if they are to drink clean water. Mang Jaime admitted that aside from the physical burden, the knowledge that FirstVille residents who are part of the consortium earn money while Site 1 residents are barely making ends meet elicits a negative feeling.

When Mang Jaime heard that ADB-JFPR will fund the setting up of communal water stations in Site 1 he was ecstatic. The ADB – JFPR grant allowed for the construction of a water station in each of the five Homeowner’s Association (HOA) in Site 1. Mang Jaime left a higher paying position in another water group and joined the new consortium in Site 1. Since the consortium was on its early stages then, there was no certainty of payment despite the services rendered and if there was any remuneration, it was very meager. Buoyed by a genuine love and concern for his co-residents in Site 1, Mang Jaime was not disheartened by the conditions and gave all that he can to improve the conditions of the project and the consortium. He started as a maintenance worker and he jokingly shared that his experience in maintaining the pipes and water network taught him the meaning of system loss. During the early stages of the consortium, one of the main challenges is how to deal with water lost from unmonitored leaking pipes and faucets and spillage because of delay in closing the communal faucets. To minimize the loss, the consortium became more vigilant in monitoring for leakages. Old and leaking pipes were immediately replaced and the water station stewards were trained to be more conscious of spillages. This led to increased net profits and savings for future maintenance or pipe replacements, and increased HOA profit share. The pay for the workers is still minimal but there is hope that it will increase in the future.

Mang Jaime shared that the water consortium has great impact in the lives of residents in Site 1. The most obvious is that people no longer need to walk far and wait in line for long just to have drinking water. In terms of livelihood, the communal water project directly created 22 jobs for people in Site 1 majority of which are women. It also created new livelihood opportunities for the residents because they are able to sell ice products because the water is potable. People from other sites connected to Centennial Water which provides Level 3 water system expressed preference of have a water system like that of Site 1 even if it’s only Level 2 because the water is drinkable. In terms of health, there is less risk of infectious and hygiene related diseases because of the good quality water that people drink. People can also now take decent baths using clean water. The consortium is also able to contribute to HOA’s operational funds.

In the last election of officers for the Water Consortium, Mang Jaime was elected as the new President. One of the significant challenges that he needs to address is teaching the water station stewards to be honest and practice integrity in handling their collections. He also stresses the importance of consistency in recording of payments. He shared that what he wants to achieve is to be able to ready, to some degree, the consortium to be able to handle a Level 3 water connection. He shared that there is still a need to develop and upgrade the system so that the consortium will be able to handle a Level 3 water connection.

The pilot Public Private Partnership (PPP) for a Level 2 water system in BNJ Site 1 has been operational since May 2015 and is now complete. Five HOA Water Groups now each operate a different community water station. These water groups are under the joint supervision of ALKFI and a HOA Water Consortium which comprises representatives from each of the five HOAs. The water system now serves approximately 2,300 households in Site 1.