Mapanas, Northern Samar is located in the borders of the Pacific. This municipality is considered as Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas in the Philippines because it is physically and socio-economically separated from the mainstream society.

The communities, which have high incidence of poverty, are isolated due to distance, state and condition of the weather and climate, and transportation difficulties.

Out of 1,489 municipalities in the Philippines, 455 are waterless or having no access to safe water. Out of 101 million Filipinos, 9 million people lack access to safe water, while 19 million lack access to improved sanitation.

Paradoxically, Mapanas is surrounded by bodies of water and yet its constituents do not have access to safe water or are suffering from water scarcity.

“Communities are considered waterless when half of its population don’t have access to clean water. The number one cause of this problem is that the water source is simply too far to access, making it difficult and expensive to develop a proper water system. Second is the economic status of the community—if it is poor, no one would want to invest in building a water system. Maybe eventually someone would consider it, but oftentimes the possibility is too remote. If it is not economically feasible, why would investors be convinced to put up a water system in a poor community whose residents would have a hard time convincing to pay for the services? Third is the geographical situation. If the community is isolated, there’s not enough people there, their source of water would not be desirable.” – Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, Undersecretary of the Department of Health

To address the issue on water scarcity and the fragmentation in the implementation of water and sanitation projects, the integrated safe water, sanitation and hygiene (iWaSH) approach has been implemented and piloted to ten municipalities in the Philippines, one of which is Mapanas, through the Joint Programme on Promoting Water and Sanitation Access, Integrity, Empowerment, Rights, and Resiliency, or PROWATER and the iWaSH Governance Programme.

This effort is to ensure the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 6, which “ensures water and sanitation for all.”

The iWaSH approach ensures a complete package of interventions consisting of social preparation and community organizing, construction of water supply and sanitation facilities and behavioral change campaigns. All these interventions are implemented in an integrated manner. 

Community Engagement

The members of the community have been invited to take part on the development of community murals. They are the ones who conceptualize and painted the mural design based on their understanding on the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene.

Focus Group Discussion, community organizing, training and monitoring

“My children used to suffer from diarrhea before. We didn’t have a toilet then. It was only when I attended the CLTS Training when I realized and be acquainted on the importance of having one. Now, we already have a temporary toilet.” –  Rhea Kapuquian, Participant of the Community-Led Total SanitatioN Training

At the end of the intervention, the Joint Programme on PROWATER and the iWaSH Governance Programme envision for:

Healthy communities that have adequate and equitable access to water and sanitation, and that practice good hygiene.