MAGUINDANAO—More than a hundred households and 1,600 schoolchildren now have better access to safe water in Maguindanao following the handover of a water system facility by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Government of Japan system to the local government and community in South Upi.
The water system, built under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project provided likewise jobs to local residents, indigenous peoples, and members of the Timanan Central Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (TCES-PTA) as community contractors.
“Water has become a daily struggle. Our children have to fetch water in school for washing their hands, or flushing the toilet. Access to clean water is vital to keep us safe from Covid-19. Instead of getting a construction company, we were trained and hired to build, manage and maintain the water system,” said Arturo Maghanoy, president of the TCES-PTA.
The project contributed to creating decent work, providing safe water and promoting peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Under the project, community contractors received wages covering 600 workdays, social protection benefits, health and accident insurance. The local government also helped provide skills training on construction, plumbing and masonry under the supervision of the municipal engineer. The project also used local-resource based materials and approaches to help revive the economy.
“We are very pleased that the water systems we hand over today serve as supplemental interventions of peace to further make progress felt by the Bangsamoro communities. It warms our heart that through this project with the ILO, we provided decent work and improved living conditions to workers who have built the water system,” said Economic Minister Masahiro Nakata of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines.
To ensure safety and health in construction, the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) in BARMM provided occupational safety and health training. Community contractors used personal protective equipment, maintained physical distance and conducted daily health monitor.
In the coming months, a new water systems are expected to be built in BARMM in 11 sites. Construction of water systems using community participation and a local-resource based approach are ongoing in four sites located in South Upi and North Upi in Maguindanao and in Wao, Lanao del Sur.
“Without access to safe water, people are at high risk of Covid-19. The pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods that can lead to poverty, unemployment and inequality. Promoting decent work and strengthening cooperation at the local, national and international level are crucial to build back better,” said Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in unemployment in BARMM. The ILO-Japan project further collaborated with MOLE to provide emergency employment to 1,750 workers in the informal economy who lost their jobs in Cotabato City, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and North Cotabato. Community contractors hired will also build hand washing facilities to help improve water access, sanitation and hygiene.