The Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) is asking for additional funds from lawmakers in a bid to expand its service of providing affordable potable water to more Filipinos.
“We need more funds. We have been stressing this to the Congress and the Senate that water districts are supposed to cater to all households nationwide,” LWUA Acting Administrator Jeci A. Lapus said in a press briefing on Monday, Feb. 8.
“Hanggang pray na lang tayo (We can only pray) [for additional funds]. But we have been submitting this request to NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) because what we need is for the expansion of access to safe water,” he said.
According to Lapus, more than 250,000 additional households were provided access to safe and affordable water in 2020 despite the ongoing pandemic.
This brings the total number of households being served by local water districts to at least 5 million, or around 25 million individual Filipinos as of December 2020.
However, Lapus noted that these figures only equate to a small portion of the total households in the Philippines that should also enjoy the benefits of potable water.
“Today we have about 5 million households that have access to safe water but this is only about 23 percent of the total population of 108 million,” Lapus said, adding that many are still sourcing their water underground or through deep wells.
LWUA is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) mandated by law to promote and oversee the development of water supply systems in provincial cities and municipalities outside Metro Manila.
Currently, LWUA is administrating a total of 532 water districts, which is servicing only 23 to 25 percent of households nationwide, Lapus added.
Lapus also emphasized the need for safe and affordable water which he said is our “first weapon” against the coronavirus in this time of the pandemic.
“Water is the first weapon to avoid the pandemic. Wash your hands with soap and water — that’s the first [thing] that you have to do even before wearing your face mask or face shield and social distancing,” he explained.
Despite the need for a bigger budget, Lapus shared that LWUA still managed to complete 57 water supply projects nationwide amounting to P754 million last year.
Also in 2020, the agency was able to provide a water supply system worth P639 million in National Housing Authority’s resettlement sites covered by the Metro Kalibo Water District and Leyte Metro Water District for those who have been affected by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.