ON June 21 and 22, 2021, Charge d’ Affaires NAKATA Masahiro delivered separate video messages during the ceremonial hand over of two Level II water systems in Barangays Looy and Rifao in Upi Maguindanao. Those who attended the event were BARMM Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Senior Minister Abdulraof Abdul Macacua, BARMM Labor and Employment Minister Romeo K. Sema, BARMM Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Melanio Umbit Ulama, Upi Mayor Ramon Piang and BDA Executive Director Windel Diangcalan. In view of the pandemic, International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Director Khalid Hassan also delivered his messages through video footages.
The first Level II water system launched on June 21, 2021 was in Barangay Looy, South Upi. Occupied by 70 percent indigenous people, the Teduray, this village rely heavily on shallow/dug well, river and rain for their water and sanitation needs. Over 500 households and around 900 schoolchildren will benefit from the water infrastructure in this barangay.
In Barangay Rifao, a Level II water system consisting of eight tap stands that will serve 80 households and 425 school children was handed over on June 22, 2021. Forty-five workers, all Tedurays were contracted to work on the water facilities. This Barangay, mostly inhabited by the Teduray will now have access to safe and reliable water.
Using the local-resource based approach in generating employment during these challenging times, men and women in the community were engaged in the construction work. To ensure safety of the workers, COVID-19 occupational safety and health protocols were implemented. Moreover, the workers were trained on the Operations and Maintenance of the water system to ensure ownership and sustainability of the project.
This initiative is under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project in the Bangsamoro Region, which was signed last March 6, 2019. The ILO intervention envisions to develop water infrastructure that will benefit an estimated 11,814 households in the Bangsamoro region. Around 2,463 informal sector workers in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Cotabato City and 63 barangays in North Cotabato will be provided emergency employment with social protection. To ensure the safety and health of workers, hand washing facilities are established in the work sites and COVID-19 responsive occupational safety and health protocols are in place. While the over-all goal of this undertaking is peace and development in Mindanao, it will also contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation, as well as Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth.
Since 1974, Japan has a longstanding cooperation with the ILO. In the Philippines, Japan has supported a number of ILO projects on disaster response, sustainable livelihood, peace and security, local economic development, among others.