Together with community residents and our local partners, we recently completed a water and sanitation project in the community of San Juan in the Philippines that was made possible through a grant from the Big Lottery Fund.
San Juan is an overpopulated and illegal squatter community in the central Filipino city of Iloilo. Many of the residents were unable to afford the high cost of purchasing clean water and did not have toilets in or near their homes. This led to raw sewage in the streets with many adults and children getting sick from drinking contaminated water. The problems were great, but we joined with the community to help create change.
We built a communal toilet block for the local families and installed a water harvesting system which purifies rain water collected from rooftops, creating a clean source of drinking water. The water is sold at an affordable cost, and this income helps to ensure that the water system is maintained, the toilets are kept clean and that soap and paper is provided. We also built three separate rainwater harvesting systems in the local schools, ensuring that over 5,000 pupils get free, clean drinking water boosting their health and ability to concentrate and learn in class.
With savings made through careful management, we could extend the project to work with the neighbouring community of West Habog Habog. This significantly increased the projects total impact, with nearly 10,000 people benefiting from new water and toilet facilities.
Another crucial aspect of the project was hygiene education. Teaching families correct ways to wash hands, clean and prep food and where to put their rubbish created a cleaner and healthier environment for residents to live in. Alexis, a community resident and mother said,
“I am now proud to invite my friends to come to my community! I can offer them toilets and clean water which tastes good. The streets look clean and don’t smell anymore, it’s such an improvement!”
A community that was once suffering from raw sewage and contaminated water is now transformed, enabling education for its children, new business start-ups and health for its residents.