Experts said government partnerships with financial institutions and infrastructure providers, as well as financing for small and medium businesses, should be prioritized to create and enhance access to safe water and sanitation in the Philippines.
Despite its growing economy, the Philippines faces significant challenges in terms of access to water and sanitation. The country is rapidly urbanizing, and its growing cities are struggling to provide the new population with adequate water and sanitation services.
According to USAID, about 12 million Filipinos do not have access to safe drinking water, and 80 percent of the population is not connected to wastewater treatment services.
During the Philippines Water Security Sustainable Pathway forum on Tuesday, Rich Thorsten, Chief Insight Officer at Water.org, highlighted how his organization has helped increase access to water supply and sanitation services for underserved communities around the world. The Institute of Financial Executives of the Philippines, Management Association of the Philippines, Water.org and Accralaw were behind the event.
Water.org is a non-profit organization that provides assistance to developing countries that do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
“This is a global health crisis… It is estimated that more than 200 million people are wasting every day mostly by women and girls collecting water or finding places to use it every day. This… is causing a valuable crisis. It is estimated that more than $300 billion is lost every year, largely by people living in poverty, who do not have access to water and sanitation solutions,” Thorsten said.
To help address the crisis, he said, Water.org has identified gaps and opportunities in the various dimensions of water and sanitation. “Essentially, it’s a funding and financing crisis the way we look at it,” Thorsten added. “Globally, it is estimated that nearly $200 billion in investments is needed each year to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Unfortunately for the Philippines, water woes will only increase in the face of climate change, which is expected to exacerbate environmental imbalances as climate variability becomes the new normal. But according to Torsten, there will always be a way.
By applying a systems approach that strengthens the links between upstream and downstream stakeholders in all provinces in the Philippines, he said the country will be able to increase access to resilient water supply and sanitation services, improve sustainable water resource management and enhance water sector management.
“[We need to prioritize] Downstream Partnerships… [we have] Partnerships with Financial Institutions and Infrastructure Providers…We have worked with many financial institutions in the Philippines and around the world to create and enhance access to safe water and sanitation through financing through microcredit, through loans to small and medium enterprises…and then on the upstream side We worked with the capital providers.
Collaboration for Infrastructure
He also said that the key to water security is cooperation with the infrastructure sector working with utilities and small and medium enterprises.
To date, Water.org has mobilized more than $4 billion in venture capital worldwide, including nearly $250 million in the Philippines for water and wastewater solutions.
“We have reached 50 million people, mostly in the last five years, globally, of whom 6 million live here in the Philippines. So we are very proud of that. But we also know that there is a lot that needs to be done to mobilize billions of foreign investment and access to millions of other people with water and sanitation solutions,” Thorsten said.
The most recent climate projections to 2050 indicate that the Philippines will become warmer, with increased temperature, lower rainfall during the dry season and more intense rainfall events during the rainy season. The intermittent water supply in parts of the country will continue to have dire consequences for the health of the affected people who continue to suffer from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.