Community-based Water Systems Solution improves water access in far-flung area

Representatives from the DCPO-RPSB, DCWD Community Relations and External Affairs, Apo Agua External Relations, Barangay Colosas Community Leaders, Ata-Manabo Community, and District 2 Councilor LJ Bonguyan marked the water supply project’s completion last March 07, 2024, at Purok 6, Barangay Colosas, Paquibato District

PAQUIBATO DISTRICT, DAVAO CITY –  From the city proper, it takes a two-hour drive through the banana plantations of Panabo to reach  Barangay Colosas, Paquibato District. One has to cross the Magwawa River, the boundary between Davao City and Davao del Norte, either on a raft, on horseback, or in times of heavy rain, wait for hours for an available backhoe or dump truck.

Women and the elderly used to regularly endure long trips to procure water for their households and agricultural uses. Infrastructure support such as bridges and those that meet critical water needs are crucial to sustaining peace and promoting sustainable development in Paquibato District. The City Government’s peacebuilding initiatives, such as Peace 911, have empowered the district with improved water accessibility, livelihood opportunities, and road infrastructure.

Women and children using the newly constructed water reservoir supply system project.

Led by the Davao City Police Office-Revitalized Pulis Sa Barangay (DCPO-RPSB), the public and private sectors come together to improve the quality of life in these communities, making water accessible and ensuring the safety of women and the elderly. 

DCPO-RPSB Focal Person, Police Major Elisa C. Ramirez, acknowledged that addressing water inaccessibility goes beyond the sole capabilities of any single organization, including the police force, whose primary mandate is maintaining peace and order.

“This program will continue, we just really have to sustain it. We can’t remain as it was before. Programs like this cannot be handled by just one organization, even we in the police force because our mandate is peace and order. But if there is insufficiency [like a water problem], that mandate really can’t be met,” said Major Ramirez.

Fulfilling its promise of uplifting communities through water supply solutions, Apo Agua started Project Blue to support community-based water systems solutions such as rainwater catchment facilities, water pipeline donation,  Barangay Water System Association (BAWASA) capacity building, information dissemination campaign for residents. 

Originally conceived to support Davao City Water District (DCWD)’s TABAWI-TAMTAM Rural Water Systems Development in District 3 barangays of Tawantawan, Baguio Proper, Wines, Tambobong, and Tamugan, Project Blue extends its reach in Paquibato.

It started with the rehabilitation of a water reservoir last 2022 in Purok 7, Barangay Colosas, which benefited 352 households of the Ata-Manobo community, the Barangay Hall Complex, as well as students and teachers of Datu Libayao Elementary School. 

The additional support of the newly constructed water reservoir in the adjacent Purok 6, Sitio Panaga benefitted 30-plus more households. The turn-over ceremony last March 7, 2024, was attended by DCPO-RPSB, community leaders, and project partners from the DCWD and Apo Agua.

District 2 Councilor LJ Bonguyan leading the Council Committee on Energy and Water emphasized the City Government’s commitment to ensuring that every resident, especially those in far-flung areas like the Paquibato District, has access to clean and sustainable water sources. He highlighted ongoing efforts at the policy level for water accessibility and he also shared the planned initiatives of the DCWD to explore and identify potential water sources that could serve the needs of the community effectively. 

“There are still several Puroks, several Barangays, especially in the Paquibato District, that don’t have access to water yet. Hopefully, soon, as mentioned by DCWD, they will provide water in the Paquibato District. Their exploration will begin, looking around to find where they can source water that can sustainably supply a large amount,” Councilor LJ Bonguyan said.

This year’s World Water Day theme is Leveraging Water for Peace, recognizing the vital connection between accessible water supply and fostering long-lasting peace in far-flung areas for rural development. Community-based water system solution projects like that in Barangay Colosas, Paquibato District, shows how collaboration between local governments, concerned public and private sector participants, and local communities can contribute to peacebuilding efforts.