Affordable potable water for the island residents of Hilantagaan

Although the islet of Hilantagaan in Bantayan Island Northern Cebu has an existing water system, residents are limited to the amount of water they can use, collect and store because Hilantagaan Water System only provides water on two shifts – 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Aside from this, the fresh potable water which residents use for day-to-day activities and purified drinking water is too expensive for each household, and there is limited potable water supply being sold in the island by boat operators who also serve as water vendors.

Hilantagaan Island is a 15-minute boat ride from the main Bantayan Island and from the port of Sta. Fe. Here, residents rely on fishing and farming for their main source of livelihood, earning a meager monthly income of Php 3,000 to 4,000 pesos, of which, a significant amount is spent for buying potable water. 

Households pay Php 10 to 15 pesos per container or a 20-liter jerrycan of water used for cooking, bathing, laundry, and drinking.  They buy this through boat operators who buy tap water from a household in mainland Bantayan at the price of Php 2 pesos per container. Each boat operator can serve three to five household with minimum five containers per household daily, depending on their available containers and the household's available cash for that day. Boat operators make an average of two trips per day, carrying around 15 to 20 containers per trip. For purified drinking water households pay Php 35 pesos per container.

In order to ensure and improve water quality and reduce the cost of potable water on the household, Oxfam through its market–based WASH program has supported the boat operators in the following ways:

  • Getting water credits through Bantayan Water System for a metered tap stand specifically installed for them in Barangay Sillon, Bantayan which they will pay on a monthly basis
  • Facilitated service agreements between Pure Serv Plus a water refilling station in Sta.Fe and boat operators for a. water credits of a minimum of 50 containers per day at a reduced price of Php 15 pesos per 20 gallons container b. distributorship agreement which accredits the boat operators as its water retailers for the island of Hilantagaan
  • Support for storage facilities and additional containers where boat operators can store water in bulk, reducing the number of trips made daily which add up to the cost per container

With these support residents of Hilantagaan can now expect to buy potable water at Php 8 pesos per container and purified water at Php 25 pesos with the quality of water assured. /ends/

Original article appears in Oxfam's Policy and Practice site with the same title here.