The links between water and sanitation are undeniable, that is why Manila Water Foundation (MWF), through its Integrated WASH Program found the need to educate its partner communities on the risks of open defecation and improper waste management to their water source.
On July 26, MWF conducted a session on groundwater contamination with the members of the community’s Water and Sanitation Groups as the first phase of its Behavioral Change Communication (BCC) campaign.
Learning about groundwater contamination
At the end of the session, participants were expected to learn about where their water comes from, and the importance of having a clean environment in sustaining their source of water, which comes from the ground. The session was divided into three parts. The first part set the tone of the session, where the Integrated WASH Program was introduced to the community as well as terms and definitions related to water. During this portion, the community learned about water- and sanitation-related terms such as groundwater, aquifer, used water, and septic tank.
The second part opened the discourse about the links between a clean environment through proper sanitation, and their access to clean water, where participants were asked to think about their habits and its impact to the environment. This is where groundwater contamination—its characteristics, causes, and impact—is discussed.
For the third part, an aquarium with a groundwater model was used to demonstrate the water process. To further reiterate the impact of open defecation to water access, a pitcher of water with fake fecal matter was exhibited to the community.
For a healthier future
Having to visualize a pitcher of clear water with fecal matter in front of their eyes, the participants had mixed reactions on the lesson, but most of them understood its essence. Angel Sison, one of the members of the community, expressed his realization from the lesson. "Akala ko pag malinaw ang tubig, malinis na agad. Hindi pala. (I thought that if the water is clear, it is automatically clean. I learned that that is not the case.)" Because of the topic, Angel learned that maintaining a clean environment and treating raw water are essential to good health.
Meanwhile, Anna Vergara, another member of the community, expressed her gratitude for the lesson. "Salamat sa Manila Water Foundation kasi sa simula pa lang noong wala pa kaming tubig hanggang sa nagkaroon na, nandiyan pa sila (I am grateful to Manila Water Foundation for being with us since we did not have water up until today)," she said. "Ngayon, nandiyan pa rin sila para maturuan naman kami kung paano pangalagaan ang aming tubig at kalusugan (They are still here with us to teach us on how to take care of our water source and health)," she added.
Integrated WASH Program
In 2016, MWF, in partnership with Clark Development Corporation and Clark Water, built a stand-alone water facility in the Sitio to provide water access to its 200 families. The water facility built in the Sitio in 2016 was only the first step towards helping the community to achieve WASH.
At present, the Sitio is now transitioning to the next phases of the Integrated WASH Program, which is sanitation and hygiene. Through the BCC, MWF hopes that this will help the community create a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.