MANILA — Some 11 million families lack access to clean water in the Philippines, an official said on Monday.
These families are forced to rely on "unprotected" deep wells, springs, rivers, lakes and rainwater, said National Water Resource Board executive director Dr. Sevillo David Jr.
"Sa ngayon po ‘no, halos mga 11 million po, 11 million pamilya pa ho ang wala pa hong tinatawag nating access sa malinis na tubig ‘no. Halos mga unsafe po ang mga tubig na kinukuhanan ng mga 11 isang milyong Pilipino po ‘no, na pamilya po," he said in a televised public briefing.
(Almost 11 million families do not have access to clean water yet. The water source for 11 million families is almost unsafe.)
The Philippines is home to some 26.3 million families, according to 2020 government data.
Lack of sanitation has also forced some families to defecate in the open, risking water contamination and diseases, David said.
Water supply also often becomes an issue during the dry season, he noted.
"May sapat naman tayong supply [ng tubig]. Pero ang sabi po kasi ng PAGASA ay mayroon pong nagbabadyang El Niño," the official said.
(We have enough water supply for now. But the PAGASA says El Niño is looming.)
El Niño is characterized by below-normal rainfall conditions, which could lead to dry spells and droughts in some areas of the country, according to the state weather forecaster.
"Kailangan po nating paghandaan ito at baka po ito ay makaapekto sa mga water supply natin partikular po sa mga sakahan po natin," David said.
(We need to prepare for this as it could affect our water supply, particularly in our farms.)
Asked what the government is doing to solve water issues, David cited President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos' order to create a water resource management office.
"Ito pong opisinang ito ay siyang magiging in charge sa koordinasyon po ng iba't ibang ahensiya ng pamahalaan natin na may mga programa at aktibidades po sa tubig," he said.
"Lampas 13 ahensiya po ang may papel o may programa sa tubig at ang gusto po ng ating Pangulo ay magkaroon po ng karampatang koordinasyon para po mabigyan ng seguridad at lunas 'yung pangangailangan po ng mga kababayan natin sa mga susunod na mga panahon po."
(This office will be in charge of coordinating various government agencies which have water programs and activities. More than 13 agencies have a role or have a program on water and our President wants to have coordination to provide security and relief to the needs of our countrymen.)
David's statement comes days before World Water Day, celebrated every March 22 to raise awareness on the water and sanitation crisis.
Video from PTV