21 November 2012

Meeting MDG Targets on Safe Drinking Water

Photo courtesy of acfj381_spartans
Data from surveys conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) reveal that access to safe drinking water and access to sanitary toilet facilities has slightly improve over the years.

Based on the 2004 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), access to safe drinking water has increased from 80.0 percent in 2002 to 80.2 percent in 2004. The proportion is, as expected, lower for those belonging to the lowest 30 percent with six out of ten families using clean and safe water, compared to families belonging to the highest 70 percent income group. The latest survey also showed that the percentage of those using water sealed and closed pit type of toilet facility is 86.2 percent, which is slightly higher than the proportion in 2002 (86.1 percent).

The Government target for 2015 is to ensure that 86.8 percent of the population will have access to safe water. However, given the current trend, there is low probability that these targets will be achieved. Access to safe water has been growing by about 0.1 percentage points annually since 2002. Assuming that this rate of increase continues until 2015, only 81.3 percent of the population will have access to safe drinking water by that time.

The problem in reaching the targets can first be attributed to the increasing price of potable water. There are still households who bought most of their drinking water from pushcart vendors and relied on this particular water source. It occurred most often in Pateros and Taguig, in Metro Manila.

Another problem is the inadequate water-resource management. The rate of extraction of groundwater, for instance, needs to be rationalized to ensure sustainability. In addition, demand-management measures are indicated to minimize waste of water supply.

To help achieve the targets set for 2015, the following measures should be prioritized and given adequate attention:

Establishment of groundwater monitoring system in the urban centers, like NCR.

A groundwater monitoring system is needed in order to regulate the pumping in areas where piezometric heads (which measures the level of the water table above sea level) are declining, and to assess the state of existing wells in terms of its physical state or the quality of water coming from it. This can be attained if there is improvement in database on yield potential and recharge rates to aquifers.

Provision of safe drinking water by installing low cost water supply

In order to minimize such problem, safe drinking water should be provided by installing low cost water supply like hand-pumps, gravity fed systems, rainwater collection, shallow/deep/artesian tube wells and construction of infrastructures for potable water system in areas where there is poor access.

Conservation of water for sustainable water quality and supply

The activities on water conservation should include, among others: (a) improving the system’s efficiency; (b) improving the metering efficiency and monitoring the unauthorized use of water; (c) encouraging the use of saving devices, application of new technologies and recycling; and (d) conducting intensive public information, education, and communication (IEC) programs on water conservation.

Development/construction of low cost sanitation facilities

The continuous decline in sanitation coverage could be attributed to the rapid population growth, rapid urbanization and lack of investment in the sector. An alternative approach in addressing this problem is the adoption of low cost sanitation facilities, such as an engineered reed bed treatment system, which offers low construction and maintenance costs, and ventilated improved pit privy (VIP) and other latrines.