World Water Day Coffey International Development - Asia Pacific

22 March 2017

Today on World Water Day Coffey is highlighting our water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) efforts in the Philippines. The Philippines region is made up of more than 7000 islands, all prone to natural disasters, particularly flooding. In this part of the world, torrential rain and tsunamis are part of the monsoon season, which begins in June and lasts into October.

A number of factors contribute to extreme flooding, especially in the nation’s capital Manilla. Population density, poor drainage infrastructure, lack of maintenance resources, unplanned urban development, and sinking terrain all contribute to devastating flooding and lingering flood damage.

The Australian Government works in partnership with the Philippine Government in its economic and social development. Coffey’s Philippines–Australia Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility, managed on behalf of the Australian Government works across a number of different industries, providing education, human resource, and development opportunities.

The Facility works with selected partner organisations including the Department of Interior and Local Government to build the foundations of good governance. By addressing the human resource and organisations development issues within partner organisations, the Facility enables them to be more capable of delivering services and effecting positive change within the Philippines. The Facility also manages Australia Awards — Philippines, providing high-achieving Filipino development leaders with the opportunity to pursue postgraduate studies in Australia. Visit their website at www.australiaawards.gov.au.

In many areas of the Philippines, waterways and major rivers are prone to filling with garbage and pollution. When the area floods the pollution spills into the surrounding areas. In many cities this is a serious health hazard, putting people at risk of disease and infection.

Through the Philippines — Australia Human Resources and Organisational Development Facility intervention, high-level personnel within the Philippine Department of the Interior and Local Government have received capacity building and leadership training to implement projects.

The Department has worked with communities, governments, officials and industry across the cities of Calcoocan, Pasig, and Pasay to commence a Clean-Up project in their major waterways. Through the Facility with the Australian Government's support, similar environmental action has been possible in multiple flood-affected parts of the Philippines.

Clean-Up initiatives in Pasay, Caloocan and Pasig
City of Calcooan, Philippines

In the City of Caloocan the Department worked with the City Director, Atty. Vedasto Bassi to spark social change by challenging communities, residents and officials to commit to the Clean-Up project of the Tanigue river. The community agreed to implement the Unite, Rehabilitate, Guard, and Ensure the Naturalism of Tanigue Waterway (URGENT) project.

URGENT mobilised community resources and built local skills to rehabilitate the creek. The community came together to provide human services, supplies, tools and equipment for the clean-up drive and set up posts at various waterways, appointing trained environmental police. To ensure the waterways are maintained, “creek guardians” have been deployed to oversee the commitment to keeping the creeks clean.

Nearby in Pasig City, the waterways which flow into Manilla Bay became polluted and clogged with garbage as result of being in an industrial area. Charles Ernest Elle, General Manager of Super Globe, a paint company located on the edge of the Pasig City waterways said,

"When Typhoon Ketsana came and the creek overflowed, our trucks, our cars, our production plant, our warehouses and even the neighbouring houses were submerged in floodwater”.

The initial Clean-Up spanned across six months and required the communities most affected by the poor conditions to contribute resources and contribute to the clean-up. The creek is now being cleaned every Saturday by surrounding communities, and people are more conscious of mindful waste management.

Pasay City, Philippines

In Pasay City, three tons of debris, 180 sacks of garbage, and 28 sacks of construction materials were removed from Cutcut Creek in their first clean-up mission. Community awareness programs have been implemented to complement efforts to de-clog the creek, including house- to-house visits, reminders for residents to do their share in community cleanliness. Today, the clean-up drive is done twice a month by the creek in partnership with the community and other stakeholders.

The communities found an innovative way to recycle the garbage collected in their bi-monthly creek clean-ups. The mounting volume of garbage collected from the community served as an opportunity to generate additional income for the area. An arrangement was made with a junk shop owner to collect the segregated waste that can still be recycled.

Locals also requested for a daily garbage collection and an additional smaller garbage truck that can enter alleys, which encouraged households to take their garbage out and not to throw them in waterways. The change in community behaviours has meant the waterways stay clear, clean, and the surround areas are no longer at risk of infection and disease. Since the clean-ups, these regions haven't felt the destruction and devastation of flooding in monsoon season since.

Coffey International Development is part of a global network of Tetra Tech companies, with 16,000 people across 400 offices. From our offices across Asia Pacific, Europe and the United Kingdom, we continue to expand our global reach, supporting clients in more than 20 countries over the last three years.

To find out more visit Coffey's website and the Tetra Tech website.

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