The Japanese government, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO), turned over several water systems to the people of Teduray, a major indigenous people situated in Southern Philippines.
On June 21 and 22, 2021, Japanese Embassy Charge d’ Affaires Nakata Masahiro led the two separate virtual ceremonies of handing over two Level II water systems in Barangays Looy and Rifao in Upi, Maguindanao.
The first Level II water system was launched on June 21, 2021 in Barangay Looy, South Upi, a community occupied by 70 percent indigenous people The Tedurays in that village rely heavily on shallow well, rivers and rain for their water and sanitation needs. Around 500 households and 900 schoolchildren will benefit from the water infrastructure in this barangay.
The following day on June 22, Barangay Rifao received from the Japanese government a Level II water system consisting of eight tap stands that will serve 80 households and 425 school children. Forty-five Teduray workers were hired to work on the water facilities. With the majority of its residents belonging to the Tedurays, this barangay will now have access to safe and reliable water.
The proponents of the water project used a local-resource-based approach in generating employment for both men and women in the community to construct the water facilities. To ensure the workers' safety, COVID-19 occupational safety and health protocols were implemented.
Moreover, the workers were trained on the operations and maintenance of the water system to ensure ownership and sustainability of the project.
Signed on March 6, 2019, the initiative for the Teduray indigenous people is part of the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project in the Bangsamoro Region.
The goal of the ILO intervention is to develop water infrastructure that will benefit an estimated 11,814 households in the Bangsamoro region. Around 2,463 informal sector workers in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato City and 63 barangays in North Cotabato will be provided emergency employment with social protection.
To ensure the workers’ safety and health, hand-washing facilities were established in the worksites and COVID-19 responsive occupational safety and health protocols were also put in place.
The Japanese Embassy in Manila explained that while the overall goal of this undertaking is peace and development in Mindanao, the water project is also expected to contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation, as well as Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth.
Among those who attended the event were BARMM Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Senior Minister Abdulraof Abdul Macacua, BARMM Labor and Employment Minister Romeo K. Sema, BARMM Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Melanio Umbit Ulama, Upi Mayor Ramon Piang and Bangsamoro Development Authority Executive Director Windel Diangcalan.
ILO Country Director Khalid Hassan delivered his messages through a pre-recorded video.
Japan has supported a number of ILO projects in the Philippines specifically on disaster response, sustainable livelihood, peace and security, local economic development, among others.