Preliminary Action for Sustainable Sanitation: Region I

An event attended by representatives of different agencies held last November 27, 2014 at the Department of Health (DOH) Region I Conference Room.  The event was a pre-meeting for the proposed partnership and training seminar to be conducted in the region.

The meeting was divided into four sessions namely; call to order, introduction of the participants, opening remarks and the business matters or the focus of the meeting.

The call to order was initiated by a prayer conducted by Engr. Marlon Olga, Technical Engineer from Basic Needs Services Philippines Inc (BNS-Phil’s). It was followed by the introduction of the participants.

The meeting was attended by 11 representatives from DOH, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as well as representatives from the Provincial Government of La Union, Municipality of Bauang and San Fernando City.

Engr. Jonas Maronilla, director of BNS-Phils, was the one assigned to lead the meeting. He opened the discussion with the matters related to the upcoming training seminar and the possible partnership to support the sustainable sanitation for Region I.

The partnership will be the catalyst of different activities to improve the sanitation in the region.

Engr. Maronilla pointed out that the partnership can give support to Local Government Units (LGUs) for their sanitation projects by monitoring existing projects and implement related projects. Furthermore, the reports and documents to be compiled for their partnership could be a significant reference to lobby it to local and international organizations and funding institutions. It was also mentioned that through this partnership, the LGUs and EMB could arrange agreement on the issuance of business permit where the EMB could issue permits for environmental compliance, this may result to a simpler monitoring. In addition, there is a plan to create a Technical Working Group (TWG) once agreement has been signed.

The expected result of the collaboration of the mentioned agencies is a “City, Municipal and Provincial Sustainable Sanitation Plan” and ultimately to develop a Sustainable Sanitation Plan for Region I. It was also mentioned that Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) could also be a funding institution once a report or the documents are formulated.

Another matter discussed during the meeting is the planned training seminar workshop with the DOH as the in-charged agency to invite the prospect attendees. The possible date and time of the seminar will be on January 15 -16, 2015 at DOH Seminar Hall as possible venue.

The representatives actively participated in the discussion through their comments and giving their concerns. Participation and contributions of the agencies in the whole phase of the seminar were clarified such as the equipment, materials and facilities needed. It was decided that the seminar fee will be free.

The meeting adjourned at 12:15 PM with encouragement to share it with their principal to further clarify the possible cooperation.

Indonesia-SEA Engineers SWG Meeting

The three-day event for the Southeast Asian Engineers happened last October 15-17 at the Ibis Styles Hotel, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


The event entitled “Indonesia-SEA Engineers SWG Exchange Meeting” was attended by the engineers from Indonesia and other Southeast Asian partners specifically from the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The first day of the conference was allotted for the fundamental concepts of Decentralized Wastewater Treatment System (DEWATS) Facility. These include the components, challenges and implementation of the system.

The main agenda addressed in the meeting was the challenges on project implementation while having limited resources such as area, time and financial. Representatives from Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia presented different options based on their experiences to solve the problem particularly in dealing with area requirement. Engr. Jennibelle Kesip, Philippines, presented a “3-floors DEWATS with Activated Carbon Filter” design as an alternative together with the small and simplified DEWATS introduced by other country representative.

In addition, issues regarding DEWATS facilities implemented by other entities (copied DEWATS) were also discussed in the meeting. Every participants of the meeting was asked to provide and present samples of copies from their respective countries. The discussion was supplemented by the impact of such system to the recipients and its comparison with the DEWATS provided by BORDA and its partners.

Designing, construction and implementation were the topics for the 2nd day.

The day was initiated by the Quality Management System’s (QMS’s) update from the Southeast Asian partners. A 20-minute presentation was conducted by the representatives from Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Philippines. It was followed by the discussion of the design and construction of the biogas digester with its shape and material as the main issue. Philippines and Indonesia were asked to share its experiences with regard to the said component.

The last session of the day was allotted for the DEWATS design with manual calculation to show how the partners come up with the design until the submission of the preliminary proposal in their respective country.

The impact of Sludge Treatment Plant (STP) implemented in Indonesia was the topic to end the session with Mrs. Prawisti Ekasanti, Technical Program Coordinator (Indonesia), as the person-in-charged.

The third day was allotted for monitoring and evaluation (M&E). BORDA Global Monitoring and Evaluation Database (Arokia) was introduced by Ms. Marina Bruckner and Mr. Mirko Dietrich in the meeting. This database format will be use by BORDA and its partners. It was followed by the discussion about the M&E forms and interviewing techniques that were conducted by Mr. Muhammad Zamroni, Technical Program Assistant (Indonesia).

To conclude the event, the participants went to the prefab factory with some dialogue about prefab logistics and new product development concept.

The disposal of untreated wastewater is an enormous challenge in the Philippines. The country’s rapid population growth, urbanization and industrialization pressure the capacity of the receiving environment; pose significant health risks and long-term economic consequences. Philippines Environment Monitor 2003, published by The World Bank, shows nearly 2.2 million metric tons of organic pollution produced annually by domestic (48%), agriculture (37%) and industrial (15%) sectors, which harm aquatic lives, water supply and cause epidemics.

In addition, six out of every ten potable water supply systems are already tainted by wastewater and partly due to this 93 Filipinos fall sick of diarrhea every hour while 24 die each day. About 67 billion pesos annual economic losses in health, tourism, fisheries and other non-quantifiable losses and damage claims are caused by water pollution.

The demand for decentralized treatment facilities for community and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines is increasing. However, many conventional wastewater treatment technologies offered today require high investments in construction, operation and maintenance, sophisticated management, and scale suited more for the developed world rather than the present economic and organizational capacities of communities and SMEs in the country.

Meanwhile, a national policy has been declared that domestic wastewater should be properly collected, conveyed, treated, and disposed of in such a manner as not to pollute the environment in order to protect public health and the country’s water resources as well as fish and other aquatic life, enhance the aesthetic quality of recreational areas and prevent Eutrophication of lakes and other deteriorative effects of water pollution.

Even though actions are initiated by government, financial problem has been the major barrier in achieving the goals of the community. Due to limited resources of the government agencies, complying with the requirements of the national policies became hard to achieve. Low income communities cannot afford facilities with regards to wastewater treatment. Although water pollution has a large negative effect on the economy, health and quality of life of Filipinos, most stakeholders are wary of addressing this critical issue because it is viewed as expensive and complex, containing a whole host of other interrelated issues. Therefore, it is difficult to provide sustainable solutions that address all of the socio-economic, technical and space constraints. These constraints include weak enforcement of environmental regulations, lack of funds for infrastructure, very little awareness among communities and local and national government agencies, and lack of local expertise and capacity to design and implement solutions. This complex problem is only going to get worse, particularly in the case of the Philippines, which has one of the highest population growth rates in Asia and where urbanization is leading to greater population density and congestion.