ADB, France target water upgrades to avert potential crisis in Philippine cities

A $2 million technical assistance grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will lay the groundwork for a project to help avert potential water and sanitation crises in the Philippine cities of Cebu and Davao.

The grant is financed by the Government of France and will be administered by ADB, with the Government of the Philippines providing $200,000 equivalent.

“Mismatches between supply and demand due to sharply rising populations, environmental pollution and shrinking water sources mean that without remedial action Metro Cebu in the Visayas and Davao City in Mindanao could experience a water crisis by 2015, as well as a sanitation crisis,” said Paulus Van Klaveren, Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

Current water supplies in Cebu and Davao, the country’s second and third largest cities, fall well short of their populations’ needs with the situation set to worsen in the coming years as the numbers rise. Compounding the problem is pollution and the tapping of groundwater by households and businesses which threatens to cause land subsidence and saltwater intrusion into legitimate supply sources. Sanitation services are also minimal with sludge from septic tanks often discharged into rivers and dumpsites.

“Unless district water agencies in the two cities aggressively expand their water supply capacity and distribution systems, both urban centers will face significant shortages of drinking water and water quality problems in the near future,” said Mr. Van Klaveren.

The technical assistance will be used for preparatory work to pave the way for a planned project to expand the raw water supply capacity of the two cities by reducing leakage and developing new bulk water sources. The proposed project will include the rehabilitation and expansion of water distribution systems, the design and construction of wastewater collection and disposal facilities, and a community sanitation awareness program. It will also target development constraints such as the weak and fragmented regulatory environment, low performing utilities, and a lack of public and private investment in the sector.

“The goal is to increase service coverage of continuous water supplies from 50% of the population to 80% and access to hygienic sanitation from 10% of the population to 50% by 2022,” said Mr. Van Klaveren.

The technical assistance will develop a multitranche financing facility to provide phased project funding, as well as assessing water supply options, drawing up designs for network expansion plans, and other preparatory activities. While the main focus is on Cebu and Davao, other centers with similar problems could also be included in the planned project.

The executing agencies for the technical assistance activities are the Metro Cebu Water District and the Davao City Water District, with work due for completion around March 2012.

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