Message at the handover of the water system built under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the handover of the water system built under the ILO-Japan Water and Sanitation Project, 9 November 2020 Manila and Maguindanao, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila and Maguindanao, Philippines | 09 November 2020
  • Minister Sema of MOLE and Chair of the Project Advisory and Review Committee,
  • Mayor Insular of South Upi, Maguindanao
  • Economic Minister Nakata of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines,
  • Pastor Maghanoy, President of the Timanan Central Elementary School Parent Teacher Association,
  • Workers and partners from the community,
  • Colleagues from the ILO,
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga (good morning)!
Rough roads and long journeys brought me to the community of South Upi before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children in school used to form a long line to the leaking pipe and carry water buckets. The path was muddy and slippery, which can cause an accident but each drop of water counts for children who will use what they collected to wash hands and to flush the toilet.

Water is indeed precious for this province affected by extreme poverty and climate change, and now the COVID-19 pandemic. I can see how the situation has now changed.

The ILO is grateful to the Government of Japan for supporting this project to create decent work, provide safe water and promote lasting peace in BARMM.

The project has become more relevant in response to the pandemic.

Without access to safe water, people are at high risk of COVID-19. The pandemic has affected lives and livelihoods that can lead to poverty, unemployment and inequality.

In areas experiencing fragility, protracted conflict, climate change and forced displacement, the risks are higher as people in these areas face multiple burdens due to the pandemic.

Promoting decent work and strengthening cooperation at the local, national and international level are crucial to build back better.

The project used local resource-based approaches, provided skills training and hired community members as workers.

These workers received wages and social protection benefits. They wear personal protective equipment to ensure their safety and health at work. The project also promoted equal employment opportunity by engaging vulnerable groups - women, indigenous peoples and person with disability.

More communities will benefit from the project as construction of water systems are ongoing in four sites in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. The other sites will start soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the world work. The impact is harsh for workers in the informal economy.

BARMM recorded the highest unemployment rate at almost 30 per cent in April 2020. The ILO-Japan project further reached out and collaborated with the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) to provide emergency employment and install handwashing facilities in worksites.

More needs to be done and we thank the Government of Japan for the continued partnership.

Today, we handover the water system to the community and the Timanan Central School Parent – Teachers’ Association as partner along with the local government of South Upi.

We are glad to see you all even virtually. We know that the skills you gained will open new opportunities. More importantly, the water that flows in your community will indeed change the lives of many.

We have reached an important step in our journey. Thank you for being with us to help build back better through decent work, safe water and lasting peace.

Maraming salamat po (Thank you so much).