Feature: Rising through hope and collective action
by Aira Cablinda
Laak, Compostela Valley (6 December) -- Residents of Barangay Bayanihan and El Katipunan in Laak, Compostela Province face each day with the daunting task of fetching water from a spring several kilometers from their homes. Armed with pails and containers, even small children help their parents carry this precious liquid trekking through dirt and mud even on rainy days.
To address the problem, KALAHI-CIDDS, a poverty reduction program implemented by DSWD, provided six communal tanks for both barangays to make up for the very scant water supply. Alongside Barangay IlPapa and Barangay Kagawasan which have Potable Water System (PWS), these two adjacent waterless barangays depend on a nearby river for everyday chores such as washing laundry and bathing.
Through a geostudy conducted sometime in 2005, residents of Bayanihan and El Katipunan found out there is no other possible water source and that only IlPapa and Kagawasan can be provided with PWS.
Bent on seeking a solution for their woes, villagers from close to 432 households came up with the idea of constructing a rain collector, a round, concrete tank meant to hold rainwater for drinking purposes and household consumption. In attaining this, KALAHI-CIDDS, came to the rescue anew and accessed the much-needed assistance to include the two barangays. Shortly, barangay clustering and provision of technical assistance were set into motion.
Covering 48 barangays in Laak and targeting those which are poorest, KALAHI-CIDDS have involved barangays wherein basic social services are scarce and delivery of such are dwindling still. For barangays left out in project prioritization, the realization of the rain collector project made the villagers realize the government is sincerely addressing their problems, making them feel they are not neglected in their quest to better improve their lives.
"In the construction of rain collectors, we were assisted by DSWD with the design and implementation. We helped in hauling cement and materials, and in masonry works. KALAHI-CIDSS has greatly assisted us. We are very thankful." This, coming from a volunteer who has been involved in the project from the time it was conceived through its completion in 2006.
To date, 142 households in the project site own individual rain collectors, the ingenious idea of the residents who now enjoy adequate water supply without having to walk for miles. Because rainfall is also constant in the locality, they feel doubly blessed. They hope that other barangays with limited water supply replicate their project since it is more cost-efficient, earning even the praise of the LGU in the area.
But what is perhaps more laudable is the people's empowered motivation to collectively act. "Kay kung maglihok lang ta, naa jud diay abot (As long as we work together, we can really achieve something)," confirms Manong Abner, a resident of Barangay Kagawasan. "We are made fully aware that the needed impetus for social services to really take core even in the most depressed and neglected areas in the region lies on empowering the people themselves." (DSWD/PIA XI) [top]