One in clamor
The residents, particularly some 30 Mandaya folks who compose the people’s organization, unanimously identified the potable water as their most pressing concern. Not only did they experience difficulty in drawing water in remote area, they were also not assured of potability.
“Mobaktas mi sa una sobra duha ka kilometro para lang magkuha ug tubig (We had to trek over two kilometers just to draw water),” said Eusebio Manolong, Sr., one of the members of the board of directors of the Brgy. Water System Association (Bawasa).
The people, he said, had long wanted have a potable water supply nearby. Hence, this was on top of the priorities of the brgy. So when consulted by the municipal government, the community folks were one in demanding of a water system.
With the implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), the people’s clamor was addressed. A communal or level 2 water system, costing P500,000, was turned over to the people’s organization on Oct 25, 2002.
Being communal, five or so households share a faucet and each household had to pay a monthly fee of P50.
The project was under the MRDP’s Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD) component, a municipal-based funding facility which addresses community-prioritized projects.
But the Mandaya folks wanted more. They wanted that faucets be installed within each household. Since MRDP only implements communal water system, the people’s organization members themselves took matters in their own hands.
But other community folks were incredulous about the plan. “I will have a part of my body cut if it (level 3 water system) will be realized,” some said, according to Manolong.
With strong resolve, they decided that each member should shoulder expenses for the meter and installation of pipes from the main line going to the household. This costs around P2,000 including labor charge.
Less than a year after the turnover, the association members already enjoy water right in their households.
From servicing 30 or so households before, today the Bawasa services about 120 households and has been operating for five years already. From one kilometer of coverage before, now the association spans three to five kilometers, according to Brgy. Captain Victoriano Rizardo.
With an honorarium of P300 per month, a meter reader goes around the barangay. Residents just pay at the Bawasa center.
The brgy. chief said he doesn’t meddle in the affairs of the Bawasa. “The Bawasa operation is depoliticized,” he said in Cebuano. He however stressed that if political will is necessary, he will not hesitate to enforce it.
According to Dennis Ramo, a municipal facilitator, there was one incident wherein a local resident tapped water from the main pipe without approval of the Bawasa. The resident was reported to have been penalized by the Bawasa and the brgy. government.
“I tell them (Bawasa members) this is their project and they must have full accountability over it,” said the brgy. chief.
With a freehand in the operations, the Bawasa members brought the project to where they want it to be. (EKR/DA_MRDP)