Elenita’s home gracefully sits on a quaint street in a peri-urban neighborhood. Potted herbs and fruit trees surround her humble abode where Elenita and her husband raise their boys. While the boys are at school, she spends her days in the home sewing bags and aprons for department store distributors. Some might never believe a family like Elenita’s could lack access to safe water and a toilet, but the reality is until recently, they did.
More than 26 million Filipinos lack access to sanitary toilets, and only five percent of households are connected to sewer systems. Further, many households cannot connect to water systems due to the high, up-front connection costs. Instead, families often rely on unsafe water sources, or expensive bottled water from informal water sellers.
Because the need for water and sanitation is so high in the Philippines, Water.org conducted an assessment that demonstrated significant interest by lending institutions in what we call WaterCredit. WaterCredit is the first program to put microfinance tools to work in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Now included as a part of their lending portfolios, microfinance institutions across the Philippines are helping empower families by removing the financial barriers that stood between them and safe water or a toilet. People like Elenita and her husband can take a small, affordable loan to construct needed piped water connections, filters, wells, pumps, water tanks or toilets.
“Life is so much better than before,” explained Elenita as she sat down to stitch a bag. “I have more time and energy to work. I don’t have to wake early to collect water, and we can even afford more because I am able to do more sewing now.”
Elenita’s story proves WaterCredit will not only help end the water crisis, but it will also transform lives giving women hope, children health and communities a future.