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1. Problems addressed

One of the basic human rights for every individual is the access to safe, clean drinking water. In overcrowded poor urban communities this is one of the major issues faced on a daily basis. In 1995 one community sought to overcome this problem and improve water services.

In 1995 Barangay(1) Tabok, located in Mandaue City, Cebu Province, Philippines had been facing serious issues with water distribution in their community for over two years following the breakdown of one of their two deepwells in 1993.

Residents were sourcing their water from the artesian wells in the community which were overcrowded and inconvenient to use. Frequent incidences of arguments over the long periods of waiting threatened the peace within the community. Additionally, residents were vulnerable to water borne diseases due to the lack of potable water. This placed a strain upon individual households due to the time the women spent collecting water each day.

(1) Barangay is the lowest level of local government in The Philippines, equivalent to a village or neighborhood. Barangays are ruled by elected Councils headed by a Captain.
2. Activities

The TARUWAS project first began in 1981 with the construction of TARUWAS I in Barangay Tabok through the assistance of the Water Sufficiency and Sanitation Program. The system delivers potable water to the households of Barangay Tabok. The households purchase the pipes and meters specified by TARUWAS, which is responsible for each household connection to the main lines. At this particular time the project was managed and operated by two unregistered associations in the community.

For a period of 13 years the TARUWAS I and II systems provided uninterrupted water sources to the residents until a serious breakdown of TARUWAS I. With no funds available for the needed repairs the management did nothing to resolve the problem. Residents were again forced to use the artesian wells in the community for their water source. This lasted for two years, causing serious tensions within the community.

Understanding there was a serious issue on their hands the Barangay Tabok council of Mandue city took over the management and operation of the TARUWAS system in 1995. One of the first steps of the council was to repair the broken deepwell and take a serious look at constructing additional deepwells in the community. With financial assistance from the Provincial Government of Cebu, TARUWAS I deepwell was rehabilitated and placed back into operation. This first step renewed faith in the community.

In 1998 TARUWAS III was constructed, followed by TARUWAS IV and V in 2004 and 2007. The systems today are institutionalized and able to handle changes within the governing control of the community. The total cost of TARUWAS is Php5 million. Upon completion, water services were extended to ten areas (sitios), serving approximately 6,000 residents.

The changes that lead to the stability of the project began with the commitment of the newly elected Barangay Captain in 1994. He saw the serious water issues within the community and the need for expansion of the water systems to meet the needs of the growing population.

To construct TARUWAS III, he and his council sought financial backing, which was provided by the Countrywide Development Fund of the Congresswomen, the Internal Revenue Allotment and savings from the operation of TARUWAS I and II.

These five waterworks systems serve only the residents of Barangay Tabok with the exclusion of industrial and commercial establishments. Monthly service charges are based on a minimum amount to consumers, sufficient enough to cover the cost of its maintenance, electricity and related operating expenses. TARUWAS has also adopted a progressive tariff structure, with lower average prices than the water utility of the city.

Since 1995, TARUWAS operates with its own resources from collection charges from its subscribers. Water tariffs are controlled by the Barangay Council. Due dates of payments have an extension clause for families who cannot make monthly regular payments on time, which is extended for a period until the amount is settled. Additionally, any occurrence of mechanical breakdowns of the deepwells will be covered by funds set aside for emergencies.

3. Key outcomes

TARUWAS system now manages and operates five deepwells in Barangay Tabok community. Piped water is provided directly to 1,043 households or an estimated 6,000 persons with 24 hour access. Through this success, the waterworks system has been able to provide financial support to other projects within the community.

Health of the residents has improved through proper monitoring and safe guarding of the quality of water distributed throughout the community and there are few incidents of conflicts due to water services.

Additional projects have been supported by the TARUWAS waterworks systems such as construction of a school building, a roadway near the Barangay Hall, funds for temporary classrooms for an elementary school destroyed by a fire, purchase of land for the construction of deepwell No. 4 among other projects in the community.

Since 1995 TARUWAS has gained financial sustainability. Currently TARUWAS operates with the income from its customers (average of Php251,522 per month in 2007) and generates a small profit. The stability of its financial status renders the system strong to face any leadership

changes. Funds have been set aside should the need arise for immediate repairs of the TARUWAS systems in the community.

The system prevents the proliferation of artisan wells that may deplete the aquifer. TARUWAS constructs new deep wells only after careful consideration of the availability of groundwater.

4. Importance of the practice

When the Barangay Captain was first elected in 1994, his initial bold step was to take-over the operation and management of the water system. His goal was to give the community the chance to regain what they had lost. His actions show the determination of an elected official to meet the needs of the community and to work to solve the issues.

Since 1995, the waterworks system has strived to become a role model of sustainability and reliability within the community. The success of the projects and the visible community spirit created since then has been instrumental in the replication in other communities. Two barangays in Mandaue City and a village in Pau-lapu are planning construction in their communities.

The Barangay Captain of Barangay Tabok who was instrumental in the success in his community, openly shared his knowledge of the waterworks system and assisted in the construction of waterworks systems in neighboring communities.

TARUWAS was instrumental in organizing the community to work together towards a common goal, to improve their lives through the spirit of volunteerism and working together as a community.

5. Contact information

Brgy. Captain Emiliano M. Rosal, Program Manager
Barangay Tabok, Mandaue City, Philippines
Phone: +63-32-345-0027, Telefax: +63-32-343-9489
E-mail: [email protected]

This executive summary is based on the documentation prepared by
Dr. Mario R. Delos Reyes
Associate Professor and Director, Training and Extension Services Division
University of the Philippines – School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP-SURP)
E. Jacinto St., Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Phone: +63-2-980-8500 local 4082, Telefax: +63-2-926-2120
E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]