Press Release
May 3, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara today called on the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other international organizations to more actively help in water sector reform in the Philippines as the 45th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of The Asian Development Bank began in Manila.

During the session, "Meeting the Water Challenges in Asian Cities: Upscaling Successful Practices," best practices in Cambodia, India and the Philippines was discussed, in light of persisting issues in water access in Asia. According to an ADB report, about 500 million people still have no access to potable water while 1.7 billion people are without access to sanitation.

"There are two main issues in water management in the Philippines," Angara explained, "First, like our Asian neighbors, more than 90 percent of our water consumption goes to agriculture. How do we balance this vis-a-vis growing demands in water supply for our homes, both for drinking and for sanitation?"

Angara, currently Chair of the Sub-Committee on Water, underscored the need to improve water services, citing that 16 million Filipinos or almost 20 percent have no access to potable water, 22 million Filipinos or 24 percent have no access to sanitation facilities, while 31 percent of illnesses recorded are actually waterborne.

"Indeed, we have a successful model in Manila, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the country, where water management is disjointed and too devolved," said Angara. "This is our second concern. In fact, there are approximately 5,000 water service providers in the country, comprised 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).

"To address this, I am currently sponsoring Senate Bill 2997 or the Water Sector Reform Act, which aims to provide a framework for efficient and effective management of water through an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach," said Angara. "However, without baseline study and data to guide our efforts in integrated water management reform, we cannot properly contextualize and localize these needs, especially in order to solve problems such as flooding, sanitation, and food supply."

"Perhaps the ADB, as a leading development financial entity, can as a first step commission or initiate a study on baseline data, which the country badly needs in its work of water sector reform," he stressed.

The Meeting, which runs from May 2 to 5 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, brings together almost 4,000 delegates from around the world, comprised of policymakers, academic and business leaders, media and civil society organizations to discuss regional developmental challenges.

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