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Water access and disaster risk reduction in Benguet

The inhabitants of the inland province of Benguet in the Philippines face many challenges. In addition to regular natural disasters such as tropical storms, water scarcity threatens their livelihoods. For the majority of them, the water supply is not sufficient. The hygiene situation is also inadequate. Toilets and hand-washing facilities are scarce and increase health problems. Almost half of the population in the project area lives below the national poverty line.

Malteser International has therefore been implementing measures to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) situation in three communities and schools since May 2023. At the same time, we are strengthening the residents' knowledge of disaster risk reduction so that they are better prepared for dangers such as landslides.

Both in schools and in households in the three municipalities of Mankayan, Buguias and Tublay, the water and sanitation supply is insufficient. The majority of people have no access to safe and clean water. Especially in the dry season, pupils have to bring drinking water from home to school. In addition, access to safe sanitary facilities in schools and other community facilities is inadequate. Especially in remote villages in the region that are not connected to the supply network, people defecate in the open.

As there is no functioning waste management system in the communities, non-biodegradable household waste is often incinerated, which has a negative impact on the environment and health. Although waste collection and recycling centers are required by law and anchored in the responsibilities of the local authorities, they are not sufficiently implemented in practice due to a lack of resources. 

The forest stands in the region have declined considerably, as most of the forest has been converted into agricultural land. Tropical rainfall and storms are increasing in number and severity due to climate change and are increasingly leading to landslides. The most recent earthquake in July 2022 triggered landslides in the deforested areas, causing severe damage to houses and roads. In addition, landslides repeatedly bury unprotected mountain springs and pollute drinking water.

The aim of the project is to improve the health situation and strengthen the resilience to natural disasters of three communities in Benguet by

  • ensuring access to safe and sufficient water all year round.
  • improving waste management systems, sanitation facilities and the hygiene situation both at household level and in schools and other community facilities.
  • raising awareness of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), waste management and disaster risk reduction.

WASH measures

  • Construction of centralized water supply systems
  • Establishment and strengthening of water associations for the sustainable management of water supply systems
  • Equipping schools, day-care centers and community facilities with functional rainwater collection tanks
  • Construction of safe sanitary facilities with hand-washing stations for the most vulnerable households and schools
  • Implementation of information events and hygiene measures in schools to prevent diseases
  • Environmental protection measures and disaster prevention

Environmental protection measures and disaster prevention

  • Establishment and commissioning of recycling centers
  • Reforestation of deforested areas around important water sources in the communities
  • Training on first aid and basic search and rescue measures as well as the development of disaster prevention plans for residents 
  • Training on disaster risk management, including preventive measures and dealing with hazards such as landslides

Country info

Capital: Manila
Area: 300,000 km²
Population: approx. 115.5 million

Project data

Partner: Philippine Association of the Order of Malta

Project region: Benguet

Donor: Federal Ministry for Development and Economic Cooperation (BMZ)

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