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  • Writer's pictureMelo Acuna

ILO, Government of Japan address basic concerns in Southern Philippines

Basic concern addressed by International Labour Organization

MAGUINDANAO – Against a backdrop of economic growth and the government’s bullish desire to bring progress to the countryside as well

as positive macroeconomic projections, a primary problem has been addressed by the International Labour Organization, and that is through the development, construction, operation and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities.

It has been reported that classrooms are half-filled with

pupils as children aged five to 12 remain on queue leading up to a lone standpipe bearing plastic containers or watering cans to fetch water for their use at Timanan Elementary School.

The path has been described as muddy and slippery from water spilling from buckets too heavy for children to bring. The standpipe is the only source of water to wash their hands and flush the toilet.

“I have to fetch water every day. I feel so tired. Sometimes I can’t eat anything during the break as I have to fetch water,” 12-year old Charles Tarala said.

Teacher Larlyn Alquisar said she can’t start her Science class because her students have to fetch water in the morning, and during breaktime in the afternoon.

“We have no water connection inside the classroom or in the toilets, and have only one source of water in school,” she said.

Tinaman Central Elementary School lies in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, an impoverished area in restive southern Philippines. Established in March last year, BARMM is one of the poorest regions in the country that continues to address basic needs such as access to safe and reliable water supplies.

Failure to have water, both pupils and teachers are unable to use the toilet and the lack of appropriate sanitation affects the school in different ways.

Ms. Alquiser said they used to grow vegetables in the school garden which supplements their pupils packed lunch but sans water, they no longer tend their gardens due to lack of water for cooking.

The low water supply has affected the nearby communities too as residents depend on their water tank.

Interestingly, the ILO and the Government of Japan partnered to improve water and sanitation services in the region. The project known as “Improvement of Water Supply Equipment Management Capacity for the Establishment of Peace in Mindanao,” will engage local communities to develop, build, operate and maintain wa

ter and sanitation facilities.

Former armed rebels, vulnerable youth, indigenous peoples, displaced citizens and those vulnerable to conflict will be trained as community contractors.

The project proponents home to create some 1,800 jobs while about 12,000 households and schools will benefit from improve water supplies.

“Interventions in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region are meant to create jobs, while promoting decent work and reducing poverty. Access to safe and reliable water supplies is a basic need and is critical in developing a healthy, educated and productive workforce. It is also crucial to peace and security,” ILO Country Office Director for the Philippines Khalid Hassan said.

The project builds on ILO work in the Philippines in the areas of crisis recovery and prevention, skills development and employment creation, particularly for vulnerable groups. It is also in accordance with Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation, Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth an

d Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. (Melo M. Acuña)

(Photos courtesy of Ms. Minette Rimando/International Labour Organization)

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