MANILA – Local government authorities and the Manila Water Foundation (MWF) on Monday launched in a Dumagat community in Norzagaray, Bulacan an annual program that aims to give households better access to cleaner and potable water.

Dubbed as the integrated water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) community program, the water access project was launched in the province in time for “Global Handwashing Day,” the “National Indigenous Peoples Month” and the 25th year of the enactment of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act or the “IPRA Law,” all of which are celebrated in October.

More than 100 Dumagat households living within the Ipo Watershed in Sitio Sapang Munti will be benificiaries of the program, which is a synergy project by the MWF with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the local government unit of Norzagaray, Bulacan.

The Ipo Watershed is a valuable link in the watershed system which supplies 96 percent of Metro Manila’s water requirements.

Now on its fourth year, the water access phase of the WASH program will be complemented by the provision of safely-managed toilets and hygiene education.

The WASH program is aligned with the Ipo Watershed Management Plan, which safeguards its responsible protection, development, management and conservation. The project is seen to improve health, sanitation and economic conditions within the IP community.

A series of technical and social assessments were conducted for the project, in coordination with the MWSS Watershed Division and the Dumagat community members.

Through the project, the MWF hopes to enhance community stewardship for the project’s sustainability by letting the Dumagat community chieftains and the women leaders of Samahan ng Kababaihan para sa Kaunlaran at Kinabukasan ng Sapang Munti to operate and managed the water system. (PNA)