Monday, March 3, 2014

Upland Sorsogon village benefits from DAR’s potable water, biogas projects
By Danny O. Calleja

CASTILLA, Sorsogon, Feb. 27 (PNA) -– The low-cost technology that the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) is applying in Bicol’s agrarian reform communities (ARCs) is now working and keeping potable water flow into households in a lowly upland village of this impoverished farming town.

At the same time, the project called Community-managed Potable Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (CPWASH) that the DAR has recently implemented in Barangay Burabod here, has also provided villagers a waste water treatment system that produces biogas usable as a substitute to liquefied petroleum gas for cooking.

The system uses animal waste as source of gas via decomposition process, Rolando Brimon, the municipal agrarian reform officer here, on Friday said.

Both projects were turned over to the village by Sorsogon Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Felix Fruto during a simple ceremony over the week.

The affair was attended by village officials led by Barangay Chairman Amado Mirandilla Jr., community leaders and some representatives from the Provincial Agrarian Reform Office that facilitated its implementation.

The implementation and completion of the project, according to Mirandilla, is very timely for the approaching summer season that artesian and open wells in the village run low, forcing villagers, especially the poor, to get their drinking water from unsafe sources.

Around 60 households, mostly of agrarian reform beneficiaries composed of 1,400 members, will benefit from the project.

Barangay Burabod is home to a total of about 2,000 people, majority of them farmers, the village chief said.

The new water system, Brimon said, is now being managed by the Barangay Water System Association (BAWASA) whose members are active farmers who are at the same time members of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization.

BAWASA runs the project as a community-managed enterprise, providing beneficiaries with clean water, better hygiene and improved sanitation brought about by the biogas reactor that helps not only to solve the community problem over stinking animal messes but also provides fuel for cooking, Brimon said.

Overall, he explained, the purpose of CPWASH is to bring about low-cost, culturally acceptable and appropriate water supply and sanitation technologies in each targeted ARC that can be managed and sustained as rural enterprise by the community.

This has the objective of reducing health issues in the communities from poor waste water management that is resulting in polluted groundwater by both reducing the groundwater pollution via improved sanitation and by treating the groundwater prior to consumption via water filters, Brimon added.

The CPWASH project was hatched by the Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation in response to the need to provide access to improved sanitation in rural communities devoted to agriculture where pollution generated from poor sanitation can adversely affect the health of agrarian practitioners and pollute their fields.

However, since many of these farmers and their communities have very little cash at hand, any proposed sanitation solutions must be low cost, low maintenance and provide some quantitative benefits for their users in order for them to be accepted.

Recognizing this issue, the PCWS decided to implement CPWASH as a sanitation project aimed at rural farming communities under the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, which is managed by the DAR.

So far, the DAR-Bicol since last year has already implemented more than 20 CPWASH projects coupled with biogas digesters, benefiting thousands of ARC households across Bicol, records show.

One encouraging fact concerning CPWASH is that the beneficiary community can do it by themselves now as they were given training on the adoption of the low-cost technology that makes water from elevated streams and springs pass through pipes into a concrete water tank equipped with iron removal and bio-sand filters to ensure constant flow of clean water.

Some of the ARBs in Burabod were also taught how to fabricate by themselves the biogas reactor using a digester septic tank where wastes of animals like pigs, dogs, cows and carabaos dumped to, in turn, generate cooking gas to substitute LPG and other fossil fuels to save on money and the environment, Mirandilla said.

This project, he said, serves as a mechanism to raise the awareness and appreciation among ARBs and the entire community on the relationship of water, health and poverty that are closely linked to each other.

It also provides capacity development, enterprise management of the water system, monitoring/evaluation and technical assistance to end-users, he added.

Brimon said his office is working with the municipal government on the replication of the project in other barangays here, particularly in ARCs confronted by potable water supply and sanitation problems.

Once the local government is made to commit funds in counterpart, DAR will be more willing to help in expanding the coverage of the CPWASH project in the municipality, he added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/cbd/