Greater access to clean water changes everything in Sibuyao in the remote countryside of Torrijos, Marinduque.
Sibuyao is an agricultural community declared as a geographically isolated and disadvantaged area (GIDA). Already racked with poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition, people in Sibuyao are facing the challenge of getting a clean and safe water for their daily use due to the absence of a water piping system.
Struggle to secure daily water supply
Too much time that could have been spent on improving learning is lost each day for students and teachers of Sibuyao National High School for they have to walk and climb a hilly area of about 200 meters for water. Despite spending hours every day to fetch water from an unprotected river in the area just to have something to consume for their daily school activities, water collected by both teachers and students is not enough to maintain school facilities including the comfort rooms and school garden. This led to a lack of decent sanitation facilities causing a tremendous health concern for the entire school.
“Dati po hindi laging nalilinis ung mga CR namin, madumi palagi, saka ung mga halaman ay di laging nadidiligan (We couldn’t clean our comfort rooms and water our plants that often before),” says Antonio Zoleta, the school’s principal.
Inaccessible water supply also made it difficult for farmers to increase their yields. Since almost all the families depend on their harvesting crops for their income, scarcity of access to water compounded their already dire economic situation. About 91.29% of farmers in the area have been affected by the decrease in quality and quantity of crops harvested due to insufficient water supply in their farmlands.
Ensuring easy access to water supply with Solar-Powered Water Pump
In 2019, all of that changed. the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA) partnered with the local government of Sibuyao to install a solar-powered water pump that would bring water closer to the community through the Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) program. The facility aims to improve the water supply for irrigation in the farms and the sanitation of Sibuyao National High School.
With the new water facility in place, not only do the students and teachers have more time to devote to studying and learning, their sanitation and hygiene activities have been significantly improved. Some of the water is also used for the gardens and houses surrounding the school.
“Malaking tulong ang solar water pump kasi di na nahihirapan ang mga teacher at studyante na mag-igib ng tubig mula sa ilog. Lagi na ding malinis ang mga CR ng eskwelahan. Iyong mga sobrang tubig ay nagagamit din ng mga gulayan at bahayan malapit sa School” said Mr. Zoleta.
Enterprise Development in Sibuyao Island
On the other hand, DOST-MIMAROPA helped a group of farmers called the Sibuyao Nagkakaisang Aaksiyon sa Pag-unlad (SNAP) Agriculture Cooperative improve their productivity. About 200 colonies of stingless bees were given to them for better crop pollination, particularly for coconuts.
The propagation of stingless bees also provided additional income and employment for more community members since harvested honeys and propolis from bee colonies became an offshoot enterprise. They are also able to harvest honey and propolis with an estimated amount of 400 liters per harvest. The colonies are expected to double their number before the year ends.
CEST is a flagship program of the DOST that aims to empower disadvantaged communities like Sibuyao by improving livelihood, health, and nutrition, giving access to education, helping them become resilient to disasters and climate change, and ensuring the protection and conservation of the environment. (Eleazar Manaog, DOST-Marinduque)