3 provinces sign deal with USAID for P900M safe water project
BACOLOD CITY—Negros Occidental and two other provinces on Thursday (Nov. 19) signed an agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for a safe water project worth nearly P900 million.
Patrick Wesner, USAID acting mission director, said the aid agency would give technical assistance to help communities in the provinces of Negros Occidental, Palawan and Sarangani build clean water facilities.
The three provinces face recurring water shortages amid rising water demand, degraded watersheds and inadequate access to water supply and sanitation services.
“The US government is proud to support the efforts of Palawan, Negros Occidental and Sarangani to achieve water security,” said Wesner.
“USAID will work with partners to maximize the use of data and sound analytics to guide informed decision making, identify lasting solutions, and prioritize investments,” he said.
Wesner led the signing of the memorandum of understanding with Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, Palawan Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez, and Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon at an online program.
Lacson hailed the partnership as “a milestone and a significant step towards a more serious and in-depth water governance for more inclusive and sustainable development in the province of Negros Occidental.”
“Negros Occidental is presently considered one of the most highly vulnerable to drought and desertification and these concerns are further aggravated by water pollution , water borne diseases, climate change, to name a few,” he said.
“Skillful and educated collaborations are needed if we are to have effective, powerful and sustainable solutions,” he added.
Lacson said a Negros Occidental water summit earlier initiated by former Rep. Alfredo Benitez and his brother, Rep. Francisco Benitez of Negros Occidental’s third district, helped bring the province’s water concerns to USAID.
“The safe water project will tell us what the real situation is as far as our water needs in Negros Occidental and the steps we need to take,” Lacson said.
USAID’s help will focus on increasing access to resilient water and sanitation services, improving water resource management to ensure sustainable supply and strengthening water sector governance.
It will also scale up successful approaches and models by using best practices from policymakers and other sector players, a project briefer from the agency said.
“With the threat of diseases like COVID-19 there will be greater demand for sustainable water supply, hygiene, sanitation services in homes and other critical facilities and establishments nationwide,” it said.
The safe water initiative seeks to improve water security for communities facing water shortages through increased access to water supply and sanitation services, more sustainable water resources and stronger enabling environment, it added.
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