The world has water problem. Soon, those who control water control the world. I hope it would not happen very soon.
But before the world’s water problem, I had my own water problem. Since piped water in the place I live here in Tacloban runs only for few hours (mostly night time to dawn), I would need a pail or two and go to nearby public artisan well to clean my body.
I don’t cook my food. I just eat at fast food nearby and drink whatever water they serve there. Not always safe, I would say but my only choice is to survive.
I have water problem and I know many of us have water problem. In documentaries I watched in television (GMA 7), I see how big the water problem is. For example, in a mountain barangay in Cebu, people had to walk several kilometers just to get few litters of water from a well or spring. In another province in southern Luzon, some people dug meters deep to get muddy water and they consider the water enough to survive.
According to Water Environment Partnership in Asia (WEPA),
Access to clean and adequate water remains an acute seasonal problem in urban and coastal areas in the Philippines. The National Capital Region (Metro Manila), Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, and Central Visayas are the four urban critical regions in terms of water quality and quantity.
At least Eastern is not yet in the critical list. But Cebu is already in the red list.
Sometimes, our nations water problem is not only the scarcity of water but also “too much” water during occasional floods. And during that time, having too much would cause “too little” water for people to drink.
While in Tacloban, my water problem escalated one day when I realized that I have compromised my health because of unsafe drinking water.
I had traumatic water experience in Cebu. The water I drank come from Metro Cebu’s potable water supply and it didn’t came into my mind that the water was unsafe. But I got diarrhea, so it must not always be safe.
Since then, I depended on purified water – an additional expense for wage earner like me. But I had to stretch my budget just to have safe water to drink.
It’s a sad reality in a country with abundant water resources.
But water has its own politics, too. Or it would be accurate to say that water is not distribute equally because of politics. Cebu clearly has water politics problem. Tacloban also has water politics problem. A boarding house owner I talked told me that there is a force that control water here in Tacloban but he refuse to detail his story.
When I arrived in Tacloban, I only drank bottled water. I feel it safe than to drink tap water. However, I don’t always have the money to buy water. I still have to buy my food, and everything . I drank tap water and nothing happened. For almost a month I forgot about water problem – not until yesterday.
Tacloban, like most Philippine cities (if not all) has water problem. I don’t have statistics at hand but based on my observations, not every city folk has access to safe water. In downtown areas, there are city-owned artisan well which supply water for laundry and washing. But this is not ideal. Ideally, each home should have 27/7 safe piped water supply. Water should not be served only to the affluent but also to the less privilege people. After all, everyone pays tax and everyone needs water to survive.
People in Tacloban have no reasons yet to get alarmed. It seems there is no looming water crisis yet. But Cebuanos (those living Metro Cebu) must work hard to find additional water sources as Cebu’s ground water is getting salty. Cebu’s water crises is fast approaching. Sun Star Cebu had published special reports about Cebu’s water problem. But actions seem very slow.
At home (in my hometown), we use purified water. There seems to have ample water supply there and deep well could be a good source of safe drinking water. However, since we are living in agricultural area where there is heavy use of agricultural chemicals and fertilizers, it could be possible that such harmful chemicals reached deep down to our water source.
The Philippines is blessed with rich water resources but we shall continue to have water problem unless we all work together to take care of our water sources. With the rate of our population (we grow too fast), it would not be possible that we can solve this water problem very soon.
As WEPA puts it its State of water environmental issues for the Philippines:
With the rapid increase in population, urbanization, and industrialization reduce the quality of Philippine waters, especially in densely populated areas and regions of industrial and agricultural activities.
May the water problem be not with us always!
Want more about water problem? Go to Globalissues.org Water and Development which says that:
If you live in a slum in Manila, you pay more for your water than people living in London.
A big problem indeed!