Press Release
April 7, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored that close collaboration and consensus among stakeholders are essential to the success of proposed water sector reforms.

Angara, principal author and sponsor of the proposed Water Sector Reform Act or WSRA (SBN 2997), highlighted that water policy in the country is highly fragmented--where around 16 government agencies have a say in various aspects of the sector--and therefore tends to be implemented in a piecemeal fashion.

"It's as if no one is in charge," said Angara, who is Chair of the Senate sub-Committee on Water. "There are pockets of success in some areas, where both water supply and sanitation are good. But this is unacceptable when many are still without access to safe water or a sewerage system that works."

A 2005 World Bank study pointed out that there are approximately 5,000 water service providers in the country, representing a mixture of large private operators, LGU-sponsored water districts, and such community-based organizations (CBOs) as cooperatives, Barangay Water and Sanitation Associations (BWSAs) and Rural Water Supply Associations (RWSAs).

Angara, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, said that according to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), 16 million Filipinos spread across 432 waterless municipalities do not have adequate access to safe drinking water.

DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo recently shared that out of the 444 operational water districts across the country, only 53 actually provide more than 50 percent water service coverage.

Angara then noted that according to the joint monitoring program (JMP) between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), around 22 million Filipinos--roughly 28 percent of the population in 2008--did not have access to improved sanitation facilities.

"These figures show just how water sector development in the country has been uneven and relatively unsuccessful," stressed the veteran lawmaker. "But in no way does that mean we will have to start from scratch as some water districts have already made some headway. We do ourselves some good if we learn and build from their experiences."

The former UP President noted that the WSRA provides an entire chapter on reforming the water services industry, which include provisions for a unified database of the water industry, and the broad guidelines which lay the basis for the amalgamation of existing water service providers.

Angara concluded, "The challenges we face in reforming the water sector are immense but can only be surmounted through collaboration and cooperation that is equally extensive. It is my hope that even at the very beginning--as we deliberate on the WSRA and work on other related legislation--all the stakeholders participate and voice out their concerns. I am convinced that this is the only way we can assure that safe water and sanitation will finally be available to all."

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