A Single Drop For Safe Water

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A Single Drop For Safe Water

Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Kevin Lee is enabling vulnerable communities in the Philippines to demand, create and sustain water and sanitation systems through a new governance approach that simultaneously channels consumer needs and increases local government capacity to deliver.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In the Philippines, water, sanitation, and hygiene are still pressing problems both in the rural and urban areas. In 2012, only 61% of the population in urban areas had drinking water piped into their households. That number drops significantly to 26% in rural areas. Access to improved sources of water (e.g. public taps, protected dug wells, protected springs, rainwater collection, borehole or tubewells), the indicator used for measuring targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), is at 31% for the urban population and 65% for people living in rural areas. That leaves 8% of the urban population and 9% of the rural population in the Philippines without access to safe drinking water. This translates to almost 8 million Filipinos without access to clean, safe water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. The scenario is more critical for sanitation and hygiene. Twenty-six percent of the total population, or just over 25 million Filipinos, do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. Such improved facilities separate human waste from human contact and are able to flush human waste to piped sewer systems, septic tanks, or pit latrines. Almost 8 million Filipinos still practice open defecation in fields, forests, open bodies of water, and other open spaces. The lack of access to proper water, sanitation and hygiene systems leads to sickness and the spread of disease which increases the vulnerability of poor communities who lack adequate access to health care services as well. Instances of conflict within and between communities in the Philippines have also come about due to competition over scarce water and sanitation services. Despite the Philippines’ rapidly growing economy and status as a middle income country, the country ranks relatively low in indicators for good governance. The World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators rate the Philippines in the 40-50 percentile for the indicators of voice and accountability, rule of law, and government effectiveness and only in the 30th percentile for control of corruption. An indication of this poor governance is that, although the national government has allocated billions of pesos in improving the water and sanitation systems of communities in the Philippines, the resources seldom reach the communities that most need them. While there are several international organizations that try to address this water, sanitation, and hygiene problem, most efforts are not sustainable because they fail to address the governance structure for the management and maintenance of the services. Too often, water systems and technologies break down and the communities do not have the resources to fix them.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Realizing how vital clean water and sanitation is to the health and wellbeing of communities, Kevin recognized that the greatest barrier was not funds but a mechanism for the community and the local government to understand and own the issue. Most water and sanitation systems rely on technological solutions that require upkeep and maintenance. Too often, these systems break down due to lack of ownership either by the community or the local government. Through his work leading A Single Drop for Safe Water (ASDSW), Kevin is making governance systems work for the effective and sustainable delivery of public services. By helping create demand for quality water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) systems in communities and building local government capacity to address the needs of their constituents, Kevin is creating sustainable systems across a growing number of communities in the Philippines. Setting it apart from other efforts in the field, ASDSW’s governance approach works both sides of a functioning water and sanitation system: the informed demand from the community and the capacity to supply from the local government. ASDSW's model creates a leadership team of community members as well as a committed government task force. Together they plan, design, and implement their own water and sanitation systems. In doing so, this approach helps dislodge bottlenecks in government funding allocations for improved water and sanitation systems while establishing an accountability and management structure to ensure the systems continue.