88 households of around 200 residents of Gaspar Island, Gasan, Marinduque in the Philippines now have reliable access to safe and clean drinking water as they are the pilot beneficiaries of the Landbank of the Philippines’ disaster preparedness program, the Gawad KATUBIGAN (access to water) program.
4 potable water filtration systems were distributed in this island community as part of the program, which is implemented in partnership with AGREA and Waves for Water (W4W), a US-based international NGO that supplies the water filtration systems.
"Gaspar residents are just the first set of beneficiaries as 6 more potable water filtration systems will be distributed in Marinduque," says Cherrie Atilano, AGREA President and Founding Farmer. "Gaspar is just the first of these beneficiary communities."
Gaspar is a few kilometres away from mainland Marinduque. The island has very limited access to clean drinking water and has no established piping system.
In any given day, residents travel 20 minutes to the mainland on small boats in order to access safe drinking water. In times when the weather is not permitting, however, the islanders collect rainwater in a catchment facility which, as of the writing of this story, is non-operational since the recent destruction of typhoon Nina.
For the longest time, access to safe drinking water has been a mere dream for these residents. Now, it is a reality.
"Water is a basic right and necessity of every person. Water is also vital in food production," Atilano adds. "In AGREA, we believe that providing our farming and fishing communities with access to clean water is a critical solution that we need to bring into our integral approach to a sustainable food system."
WATER FOR LIFE. Victor Gerardo Bulatao, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Landbank Foundation, samples water from filtration 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 many 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.
Aside from turning over the filtration kits, the program’s objectives include knowledge transfer — especially to community leaders, social welfare officers, and teachers — on how to use and maintain the water filtration systems.
The community is also a beneficiary of The Garden Classroom, AGREA’s signature program with DepEd Marinduque that aims to bring a holistic approach to learning by integrating the school garden in the curriculum – the school garden supports the students’ learning experiences in subjects like Math, Science and English, among others.
Present during the turnover were Victor Gerardo Bulatao, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Landbank Countryside Development Foundation, Inc.; Mary Lou Villafranca of Landbank Southern Luzon, Efren Nalda, Landbank of the Philippines – Boac Branch Manager; Denise Alcantara of Waves For Water; Danilo Apostol, Barangay Chairman of Pinggan, Gasan; representatives from MSWDO Gasan, teachers and students of Gaspar Elementary School; as well as residents of the community.