MANILA, Philippines –
Business leaders and officials of major water districts discussed potential partnerships and investment opportunities to help more Filipinos gain access to clean drinking water and sanitation services during the First Water Sector Forum in Makati City.
The “Innovating and Building Partnerships for Water Security” forum aims to encourage private sector investments such as public-private partnerships (PPP) and joint ventures in the water sector to improve water services to support broad-based, inclusive and resilient growth in urban areas outside Metro Manila. U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized the event through its Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and WaterLinks.
Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and USAID/Philippines Mission Director Gloria D. Steele delivered key messages during the opening session.
Director Gloria Steele reinforced the U.S. Government’s commitment to help the country provide access to clean water and sanitation to all Filipinos. “We will continue to partner with the Philippine Government, business and the water sector to help the Philippines obtain universal access to water and sanitation. By securing these basic necessities, we are securing lives and livelihoods - which ultimately leads to a more stable, prosperous nation.”
Other speakers included Mr. Ramon Alikpala, Director of the USAID Be Secure Project; Mr. Arjun Thapan, Chairman of WaterLinks; Mr. Rafael Lopa, Executive Director of PBSP; Ms. Bebet Gozun, Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary and Presidential Adviser on Climate Change and currently USAID Be Secure Climate Resiliency Team Leader; and Mr. Roberto Batungbacal, Country Manager of Dow Chemicals Pacific, Ltd.
“The government is continuously exploring possibilities and opportunities to encourage private sector to invest in water supply development programs, to include financial, technical innovations and other partnerships,” said Secretary Singson.
According to the Philippine Progress Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2010, 92 percent of the Philippine population had access to an improved source of drinking water in 2010. However, recent survey indicates that only 44.4% of the total population has household connection to water supply (Level III) with more than half relying on either communal water systems (Level II, 12.5%) or protected wells and springs (Level I, 31.8%). (Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, 2011) This shortfall seriously impacts economic growth, health and overall development of the country.
While Philippine Government investment has increased in recent years, the World Bank estimates that almost Php93 billion is needed to put up new Level III facilities and upgrade Level II into Level III household connections from 2013-2025. (World Bank, May 2013)
In close coordination with the Philippine Government, the U.S. Government through USAID works on interrelated governance and capacity building issues to facilitate improved access to clean drinking water supply and sanitation services. USAID’s Be Secure Project addresses the key task of mobilizing financing for sustainable water and sanitation services in the country. This initiative supports USAID’s efforts under the Cities Development Initiative to promote economic growth of second tier cities and stimulate investments and inclusive development in the Philippines.