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Lending a helping hand in calamity-prone zones

Lending a helping hand in calamity-prone zones

Residents of Baguio City and Coron, Palawan, Philippines get portable water filtration systems through an initiative of Waves for Water International and LANDBANK

LandBank of the Philippines pushes disaster preparedness in calamity-prone communities

January 10, 2017: Around 5,000 residents of Baguio City and Coron, Palawan in the Philippines now have reliable access to clean and safe drinking water as the pilot beneficiaries of the Land Bank of the Philippines’ (LANDBANK) latest disaster preparedness program, the Gawad KATUBIGAN (access to water) program.

A total of 305 portable water filtration systems and 12 rainwater catchment systems were distributed in communities in Baguio and Coron as part of the program, which is implemented in partnership with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and Waves for Water (W4W), a US-based international NGO that supplies the water filtration systems.

“Aside from the bank’s usual relief operations, we want to capacitate residents in communities usually hit by calamities. With the Gawad KATUBIGAN program, we are confident that these communities will be assured of access to the most basic necessity in life – clean drinking water,” said LANDBANK First Vice President Catherine Rowena Villanueva, who heads the Corporate Affairs Department that implements the program.

Baguio City was chosen because of its exposure to landslides and earthquakes and for having communities that only rely on springs as their source of drinking water.

Coron, on the other hand, is an island that has very limited access to clean drinking water and has no established piping system.

The water filtration systems have the ability to remove 99.99999% of bacteria that cause water-borne diseases such as cholera, salmonella, E. coli, among others. Each system can filter one million gallons of water and provide clean drinking water for 100 people a day. If properly maintained, they can last up to 10 years.

“This LANDBANK program not only provides our locality with clean and safe water, but also assures us that our children will be safe from various water-borne diseases,” says Francis Silvino, councilor of Bakakeng Norte, Baguio City.

Aside from turning over the filtration kits, the program’s objectives includes knowledge transfer — especially to community leaders and health workers — on how to use and maintain the water filtration systems.

Gawad KATUBIGAN hopes to empower community leaders as overseers of the filtration systems that are vital, especially in times of calamities.

The program will soon be rolled out in Tacloban, Leyte, which was among the hardest-hit areas when Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged the Philippines’ central region in 2014.

Disaster preparedness and response

Gawad KATUBIGAN is a spin-off of a smaller disaster response project that the bank had launched in 2014 when typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) caused major damage in Central Luzon and left thousands of residents without access to clean drinking water.

Through the project, initially called ‘Malinis na Tubig Handog ng LANDBANK’ (LANDBANK provides access to clean water), the bank distributed 60 portable water filtration systems in Nueva Ecija, which suffered its worst flooding in the history of the province due to typhoon Lando.

The bank has since provided water filtration systems to communities across the country, including in Lubang Island in Mindoro, Allen in Samar and Barcelona in Sorsogon – three of the hardest-hit provinces when typhoon Nona (international name: Melchor) battered the Central Philippines in 2015.

In September 2016, water filtration systems were distributed in Sabtang, Batanes after typhoon Ferdie (international name: Meranti) destroyed thousands of Ivatan homes and damaged infrastructure.

LANDBANK also distributed 90 water filtration systems last November in the Kalinga, Isabela and Cagayan provinces, which were heavily affected by typhoon Lawin (international name: Haima).

With the official rollout of Gawad KATUBIGAN, LANDBANK is looking to expand the coverage of the program to serve not only as a disaster response initiative for provinces hit by calamities but also as a sustainable program to promote greater disaster preparedness among more Filipino communities.

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