By Philippine News Agency, September 16, 2021; Philippine News Agency

https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1153731?fbclid=IwAR2aRZhfi_Z38csJvmyL79-9p3GunvQFDGFau80EgsaxEJ6rDRLqpr1v9I4

Manila – Establishing effective water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector institutions and strengthening the regulatory environment are needed to address the future increase in water consumption and address gaps in sanitation services, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

In a speech during the virtual launch of the Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan (PSWSSMP) Thursday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua underscored that integrated interventions from the local and national government, and stakeholders are crucial to achieve the goal of providing universal access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation to Filipinos by 2030.

“Such cooperation is at the heart of the Philippine Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan, which was approved by the NEDA Board Committee on Infrastructure last April 6. It aims to not only provide safe water supply and sanitation services for all Filipinos, but also ensure that these services can withstand disasters and protect the environment,” Chua said.

To achieve this goal, the master plan focuses on eight key reform agenda: establishing effective water supply and sanitation sector institutions, strengthening the regulatory environment, creating and ensuring effective water supply and sanitation services, balancing water supply and demand, building climate resilience, enabling access to financing, managing data and information to determine baseline and gaps of investments, and driving research and development in the sector.

Chua highlighted that only 44 percent of households have individual connections to a proper, fully-reticulated waterworks system. The remaining 56 percent, or 57 million Filipinos, have to fetch water for their families from communal pipes, springs, or wells up to 250 meters away.

He said such conditions put them at risk of contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) virus in a time when proper hygiene is essential.

In response, the master plan creates a unifying framework for planning, implementing, and funding in the sector, he added.

“The plan calls for a total investment of around 1.1 trillion pesos in the sector until 2030. By having clear policies and a unified framework, we look forward to more investments and participation from the private sector, the international development community, as well as local and national agencies. We also support the creation of the Department of Water Resources, which will unify our fragmented water sector and spearhead the implementation of this master plan,” Chua said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary Roderick Planta said NEDA is also championing the issuance of the executive order on integrating and coordinating management of water resources by transforming and strengthening the National Water Resources Board into the National Water Management Council, pending the legislation of the Department of Water Resources and the Water Regulatory Commission.

The PWSSMP is in line with Chapter 19: Accelerating Infrastructure Development of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

The master plan formulates strategies, policy reforms, priority programs, and projects to achieve WSS-related targets in the PDP 2017-2022, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (Clean Water and Sanitation).

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