WaterConnect for the BOP

The Water.org Philippines team is piloting a new project called WaterConnect to connect families living in the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP) with easy access to improved and safe drinking water.

The pilot currently focuses on four barangays, two each in the cities of BiƱan and Sta. Rosa in the province of Laguna. This project aspires to target 2,300 families by September 2017- in the nine months allotted for the pilot.

Through a strong partnership with Laguna Water, local partner microfinance institutions (MFIs), and WaterLinks International, the Water.org team developed a model to assist the poor families to be connected to piped water that is being supplied by the water utility company in the area.

The project scheme attracts a significant number of the poor families who still lack access to piped water. The water meter connection fee of Laguna Water will be paid by the interested households for 18 months without interest. The after-the-meter costs will then be loaned through local Water.org MFI partners. Households who qualify for the MFI assistance based upon its policies will be approved for a loan amounting to the total connection costs, to be paid within the set duration at a low interest rate.

For example, ASA Philippines MFI has placed 15% nominal rate for their Water and Sanitation Financing (WaSaFin) Program in a span of Forty-six (46) weeks. To be able to qualify for an ASA loan, a household member must have a sustainable cash flow and have the ability to pay their weekly payments. On the other hand, Taytay sa Kauswagan, Inc. (TSKI) placed 2.5% interest rate per month for their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program within a span of twenty-five (25) weeks where a household member must also have a sustainable cash flow to be able to qualify for a loan. Households who are disqualified by the MFIs can be ushered to other financial sources or to other MFIs.

The WaterConnect team plays a very crucial role in conducting hygiene promotion awareness, coordination with barangay officials, and clustering the interested households in every alley of the covered areas into Samahang Patubig (SPs). These SPs plays an important role in the project implementation: groups of 10 or more interested households combine to create an SP and sign an agreement to support the project where they will formulate Community Action Plans to prioritize group activities and will act as support groups where households can talk regularly about payment compliance by each member of the group.

To make this pilot project a success, the full commitment and passion from the community is essential. The WaterConnect team has been experiencing different challenges and lack of interest from the intended clients. Many have rejected the project because they rely on the water hand pumps or tubewells, despite the associated dangers of drinking from contaminated aquifers.

Because of this, behavioral change is an essential and crucial factor in conveying the importance of WaterConnect. The WaterConnect team is conducting house-to-house discussions using hygiene awareness materials to show the dangers of using unsafe sources of water to the community members. The team has noticed a growing number of positive responses to the WaterConnect project since project implementation began in January 2017.

The WaterConnect Team together with Water.org Philippines is very optimistic to reach our target by the end of September this year.

Capital: Manila
Population of 101.8 million
8 million lack access to safe water
26.5 million lack access to improved sanitation
42% of the total population lives on less than US$2 per day
Philippines