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A Lack of Clean Water and

Sanitation in the Philippines Kills 55


People Every Day







By Sarah Jones

March 27, 2015 |


Last September, Suzette Flores knew something was wrong when her toddler, Rob Ezequiel Garcia,
vomited five times in a single day. It was the first time her 19-month-old son had ever been so sick,
she said. When he developed a fever, she rushed him to the hospital.

"Five hours later he died," the 31-year-old said of her only born child. "In those last five hours he
was having seizures."

Doctors told Suzette that her child most likely died of bacterial meningitis, an infection that swells
and inflames the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Doctors said the boy likely
contracted the infection by coming into contact with fecal material in his environment.

The disposal and treatment of human waste is a serious issue in the Philippines. The
country's National Sewerage and Septage Management Program (NSSMP) says around 55 people die
every day in the country of nearly 100 million because more than 90 percent of the country's sewage
is not collected or treated properly. Only 10 percent of the country's population has access to piped
sewage systems; and the NSSMP says that many Filipinos who have toilets "do not have septic tanks;
many septic tanks have open bottoms; and most septic tanks are not regularly desludged and the
septage removed is not treated and disposed of properly."

"Over 30 million people in the Philippines do not have access to improved sanitation facilities," says
Katrina Arianne Ebora, who works on UNICEF's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program in the
Philippines.

Water containers in Tondo, Manila. Each costs 3 pesos, or about 75 cents, to fill up. Photo by Sarah

Jones.

"Out of this, 7.8 million people, or roughly 8 percent of the country's population don't have access to
sanitation facilities at all - [thus they] resort to open defecation, meaning they have to defecate in the
bushes, in the field, or at the seashore," she said.

Every day nearly 10 million (or 1 in 10) Filipinos defecate in open places or use a plastic bag that is
then thrown out with the trash, according to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Fund,
which is lower than the international average of 1 in 7 people.

Suzette is one of those who has no access to proper sanitation facilities. She lives in Tondo, a Manila
neighborhood that is one of the world's most densely populated slums. On the walls of her home are
framed pictures of her son and a bicycle that's the perfect size for a young boy learning to ride a bike.

Suzette is one of roughly 5 million Manila residents - around 37 percent of the capital region's
population of 12 million - who live in slums. Like many families in Tondo, Suzette and her husband
can't afford a toilet because it costs around 8,000 pesos (about $180). In Tondo, families who can't
afford a toilets usually defecate in a plastic bag.
Suzette Flores says she would like to have access to a sanitary way to dispose of her and her
family's waste, like a toilet, because it would be more comfortable and it would be healthier.

But it's a slightly different reality for toddlers like Zaldey Manlapaz, who are not yet potty-trained
and whose families can't afford diapers.

Zaldey is only two years old. He was eating rice on a table in front of his house when he had to go to
the bathroom. His mother, Issa, says that he usually poops on paper or plastic because diapers are too
expensive.

A child on the street in Tondo, Manila. Photo by Sarah Jones.

When walking around Tondo, a Manila slum, it is not uncommon to see toddlers in shirts but without
pants. Water costs about 3 pesos per container and it would take a lot of water to clean a cloth diaper.
Zaldey pooped on the table where he was eating, bits of rice still on his face. Issa said she will collect
the waste and place it in a plastic bag and add it the pile of plastic bags in her and her family's waste
and garbage. Garbage trucks come into the neighborhood every morning around 9 or 10am and
collect the bags of waste, according to residents. But the plastic bags are far from sanitary: bags
break or are torn open by animals, thus spilling their contents and contaminating the area and leaving
residents exposed to human waste.

Issa says she and her family often get ill, and have diarrhea all the time. Zaldey climbed off the table
where he was eating and continued to use the bathroom while he was standing. This was not unusual
for the community. When Zaldey was done pooping his mother put her cell phone away and followed
her son to a basin where he was waiting to be washed. Issa said that if she would prefer to have a
toilet, but the government has not provided one and she cannot afford one.
According to the nonprofit government research institution Philippine Institute of Development
Studies (PIDS), about 32 percent of the slum population has incomes below the 2006 national
poverty threshold of 20,000 pesos (US$400) annual per capita.

PIDS says Manila's slums are growing by the day with a population growth rate of nearly 8 percent.
By 2050 the government predicts the slum population in Manila alone will reach over 9 million
people.

Related: Cruise Ships Legally Dump Massive Amounts of Shit Into the Oceans

The population growth rate is due in part to the large size of families: in Tondo, nearly every family
has five to six members: two parents and three or four children. These families are living in
overcrowded conditions: several warehouses modified to hold 88 families each now hold more than
200.

Many residents say the overpopulation of Manila's slums is due to families needing a source of
income even if they don't earn much. Some families in Tondo have tried living in rural areas as part
of the city's relocation program but they say they lasted less than a year and came back to Tondo to
settle illegally because they couldn't find work outside of Manila and needed to feed their families.

In the slums of Manila, parents can earn a wage collecting garbage, segregating garbage, manual
labor, working on the nearby port, or driving tricycles - a common form of transport in the
Philippines.

Violi Okdeeman, 53, was part of the city's relocation program from Tondo to a more rural area. But
Violi says that after less than a year she and her husband decided to move back to the city because
they were worried about how they were going to feed their three children.
"In terms of facilities, there is much better than where we are now," said Violi. "It's a one room
concrete house with a toilet in the same room and no faucet. But there was just nothing to eat [in the
rural area], at least it is easier for my family to earn an income here."

Violi's husband is a welder but she is the main breadwinner in the family and all of her children are
in school. Violi uses rain water that collects in a well near her home and for bathing, cooking and for
her work. The water is free to the community. Other families from Tondo use the water from a
pump that costs about three pesos per container. One family of five said they go through about ten
containers of water for washing clothes and bathing, which costs them 30 pesos ($2.00) per day.

Related: Where the Poor Get Blamed for the Plague

Violi uses the free water that she collects from the well to soak and peel garlic that she sells to her
neighbors in the market a few buildings away from her home. Violi has a toilet, but it is broken, and
even with her double income household she can't afford to fix it. So for now she and her family of
five are also using plastic bags for their waste.

The Philippines is aiming to achieve universal access to safe and adequate toilets by 2028. While
some villages have been declared Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) zones there is currently no national
data available regarding ZOD villages.

Follow Sarah Jones on Twitter: @SarahJReports

Sarah Jones is reporting on health and development from the Philippines as an International
Reporting Project Fellow.

TOPICS: environment, asia & pacific, philippines, manila, tondo, sanitation, t


More than a million households in Metro Manila and nearby provinces will bear the brunt of the
planned cut in supply by Maynilad and Manila Water.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Manila Water canceled its
scheduled service interruption on Thursday next week (September 10),
as rainfall over Ipo and La Mesa dams helped increase water level at the
reservoirs.

The company, which provides water and wastewater services to the east
zone of Metro Manila, earlier announced that it would limit supply from
six to 17 hours in areas it services in Metro Manila and Rizal.

Related: Maynilad, Manila Water to inform households when they will lose
water supply

West zone concessionaire Maynilad also made a similar announcement.

The two companies have not issued a schedule of the service


interruptions, but said that households would be informed beforehand to
allow them enough time to store water.

The move to cut water supply was in preparation for a severe El Niño,
which is expected to last until June next year.

Related: Will El Niño 2015 rival the strongest year on record?

Concerns on the effect of radically reduced rainfall to Angat Dam


prompted the two concessionaires and the National Water Resources
Board (NWRB) to reduce the water allocation for Metro Manila and
adjacent provinces from 41 cubic meters per second (cms) in August to
38 cms this month.

The Angat reservoir supplies 97 percent of water needs of Metro Manila


and adjacent provinces.

Several barangays serviced by Manila Water consumers in the following


areas will be affected:

 Quezon City
 Taguig
 Pasig
 Marikina
 Antipolo City, Rizal
 Rodriguez, Rizal

As for Maynilad, it listed that the following barangays would experience


waMANILA, Philippines - Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) on Friday reminded consumers to
store water for water service interruptions this August.

The rotating water service interruption, which ranges from 12 to 41 hours, will be implemented in lieu of
the flood control project of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The water interruption is scheduled from August 1 to August 13 and from August 17 to August 18.

"The three-day gap between the scheduled interruptions will allow affected Maynilad customers to
replenish their stock of water," Maynilad said in a statement.

Portions of Caloocan, Manila, Pasay, Makati, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Cavite City, Bacoor
City, Imus City, and the towns of Kawit, Rosario at Noveleta in Cavite will be affected by the rotating water
service interruption.

Maynilad issued the following tips on how to store water safely:

 As much as possible, store water in containers that have covers. Water stored in open containers should
be used within one or two days. Boil the water if intended for drinking or cooking.
 Store water in multiple containers, large and small. Drinking water should be stored in clean and
disinfected containers that can be firmly closed.
 Light and warmth promote algae and bacteria growth, so store containers in a cool, dry place away from
direct sunlight.
 Water stored in plastic containers should be kept away from gasoline, kerosene, pesticides or similar
substances because vapors from these products can penetrate plastic.
 Never store water in containers that were previously used to store toxic substances.
 Freeze water for additional supply during the water service interruption. Once melted, the ice can be used
for cooking or drinking.
 To avoid water contamination, clean cisterns, drums and overhead tanks before filling them with water.
 Empty household bleach bottles can be used to store water for cleaning.
 Use clean food-grade containers to store water for cooking and drinking.
 Disinfected plastic soda bottles, glass canning jars and juice bottles can be used to store water for
drinking and cooking.

MANILA, Philippines - Maynilad Water Services, Inc. (Maynilad) on Friday reminded consumers to store
water for water service interruptions this August.
The rotating water service interruption, which ranges from 12 to 41 hours, will be implemented in lieu of
the flood control project of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The water interruption is scheduled from August 1 to August 13 and from August 17 to August 18.

"The three-day gap between the scheduled interruptions will allow affected Maynilad customers to
replenish their stock of water," Maynilad said in a statement.

Portions of Caloocan, Manila, Pasay, Makati, Parañaque, Muntinlupa, Las Piñas, Cavite City, Bacoor
City, Imus City, and the towns of Kawit, Rosario at Noveleta in Cavite will be affected by the rotating water
service interruption.

Maynilad issued the following tips on how to store water safely:

 As much as possible, store water in containers that have covers. Water stored in open containers should
be used within one or two days. Boil the water if intended for drinking or cooking.
 Store water in multiple containers, large and small. Drinking water should be stored in clean and
disinfected containers that can be firmly closed.
 Light and warmth promote algae and bacteria growth, so store containers in a cool, dry place away from
direct sunlight.
 Water stored in plastic containers should be kept away from gasoline, kerosene, pesticides or similar
substances because vapors from these products can penetrate plastic.
 Never store water in containers that were previously used to store toxic substances.
 Freeze water for additional supply during the water service interruption. Once melted, the ice can be used
for cooking or drinking.
 To avoid water contamination, clean cisterns, drums and overhead tanks before filling them with water.
 Empty household bleach bottles can be used to store water for cleaning.
 Use clean food-grade containers to store water for cooking and drinking.
 Disinfected plastic soda bottles, glass canning jars and juice bottles can be used to store water for
drinking and cooking.
Water conservationist encompasses the policies, strategies
and activities to manage fresh water as a sustainable resource, to protect the water
environment, and to meet current and future human demand. Population, household size and
growth and affluence all affect how much water is used. Factors such as climate change will
increase pressures on natural water resources especially in manufacturing and
agricultural irrigation.[1]