The Water & Sanitation Crisis in the Philippines
Out of 101 million Filipinos, 8 million rely on unimproved, unsafe and unsustainable water sources and 26.5 million lack access to improved sanitation. 5.8 million Filipinos in rural areas still practice open defecation.
The consequences of this lack of access are dire. There are 520,000 cases of waterborne diseases recorded annually. Eighteen Filipinos die daily from diarrhea and other water-borne diseases. 55 Filipinos die daily from diseases caused by lack of proper sewerage and sanitation facilities.
Families without a safe water source in or near their home often spend significant time and energy collecting water. Those without a sanitary toilet facility at home face a number of unattractive choices. Venture into the dark rice paddies or sugar cane fields, risking snakebites, robbery or even sexual assault, hold it until morning, or suffer the embarrassment of asking to borrow the toilet of a neighbor or relative. Others defecate in nearby rivers or streams, contaminating local water sources. Thus, Filipinos consider water and sanitation access a matter of safety, pride, progress, and convenience, in addition to the health considerations.
While about 75 percent of surveyed Filipinos expressed an interest in a WASH loan, previously few banks or microfinance institutions offered loans specifically tailored to this purpose. In addition to funding, low-income families also often lack the knowledge to navigate the complicated process of procuring a municipal water connection, registering a legal tube well, or constructing a safe, sanitary toilet facility.
In 2014, Water.org expanded WaterCredit to the Philippines with the support of the Caterpillar Foundation and Swiss Re Foundation. We now work with six different microfinance institutions, providing philanthropic and technical support to build their capacity to provide a variety of water and sanitation solutions in urban and rural communities. In 2015 and 2016, partners conducted research, trained staff, designed their loan products and executed lending pilots.
Programs with our six partners are in full swing. We are expanding our partnerships, and by the end of 2018, we aim to reach more than one million people with safe water and sanitation. In addition, we are developing innovative approaches to working with municipal water utilities and developing new toilet models, so even more low-income Filipinos can enjoy safe water and the dignity of a toilet.