The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Government of Japan have partnered to build a water system in Lanao del Sur that is enough to connect six barangays with a population of over 10,000 people.
In a statement, ILO announced that the water system, which was built in partnership with the local government of Lanao del Sur, is already operational and started providing clean and safe water in the Bangsamoro region.
ILO is a United Nations agency whose mandate is to advance social and economic justice through setting international labor standards.
The water system connects six barangays and villages with a population of over 10,000 people. These barangays have limited water access for two decades.
The water system with 69 tap stands will cover communities, agricultural areas, schools, and a birthing clinic.
The water system was completed at almost P17 million in total cost, including wages and benefits, and P3.9-million local government counterpart.
“Water has become more valuable during COVID-19 especially for areas facing multiple burdens such as extreme poverty, conflict, and climate change,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
“We are grateful to the Government of Japan for giving us the opportunity to take part on Mindanao’s development through this water project that creates decent work, provides safe water and promotes peace,” he added.
Under the ILO Japan Water and Sanitation Project, 263 community members were trained and hired in construction, mostly those who lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic.
A Single Drop for Safe Water, as the project’s implementing partner, further supported the community contractor, Katutungan Irrigators’ Association in building the water system. Workers received wages and social protection benefits. Occupational safety and health protocols were implemented.
The project also ensured equal employment opportunities by engaging women in construction and planned for its sustainability through social dialogue.
In addition to promoting decent work and contributing to peacebuilding in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the project also helped upgrade the technical and financial skills of the community.
“We are quite pleased that opportunities for decent work and improved living conditions were provided to the locals, and proper health protocols were observed during construction,” said Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.
Moving forward, the water system is expected to further boost agricultural productivity in the area since communities and farmers will no longer spend time lining and fetching clean and safe water through direct access.
The partnership also highlights the role of the local government in investing and sustaining efforts to provide basic services.
To make the project possible, the local government adopted measures to settle right of way issues, supply construction materials and financial counterparts, and will soon legislate a local ordinance to ensure sustainability.
“The water system is a big help and a dream come true for the community. We commit to provide funds and institutionalize its maintenance through a local ordinance. The water system is indeed the most valuable project this year for the people of Wao,” Mayor Elvino Balicao, Jr. said.