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Access to energy, clean drinking water and sanitation are the foundation of a healthy, productive life. Yet more than 12 million Filipinos live without access to electricity, 8 million live without access to clean water and over 25 million lack access to sanitation facilities. Because of the lack of sanitation infrastructure, 58% of the groundwater is contaminated by raw sewerage. Contaminated water harbors bacteria which causes harmful viruses to proliferate, causing acute diarrhea, the 4th leading cause of death among children under five. In 2014 alone, half the country’s population (46,305,000 people) reported suffering from one or multiple cases of diarrhea. Repeated diarrhea can lead to malnutrition and negatively impact child development, and is the cause of death of 4,200 people annually. Additionally, the 1,047 mountainous islands that make up the Philippines make infrastructure development of grid-connected electricity problematic and expensive. Thus, the majority of households have no access to electricity and those with access frequently experience blackouts that impact economic productivity. Compounding this lack of basic infrastructure, climate change, increased severity of storms, and rising sea levels also threaten this island nation.
Green Empowerment’s Approach
Green Empowerment has been working with rural communities in the Philippines since 2001. Over the years our involvement has blossomed into productive relationships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), SIBAT, YAMOG, and AIDFI, on three islands, serving dozens of villages. We work with our partners to provide the tools and support necessary for individuals to live a healthy life and support their family financially.
Green Empowerment is also partnering with the private sector to enhance the livelihood of community members. By linking our projects to business enterprises, such as power for a lemongrass oil distiller, energy for a grain mill, and light that allows women to weave at night, we are providing a basic service, renewable energy, and providing the tools necessary for long term economic development for the region.
In August 2012, Green Empowerment and its partners in the Philippines received a $1.4 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver simple, affordable clean drinking water technology to 24,000 people in remote areas of Zambale, Leyte, and conflict-affected regions of Mindanao by 2017. This program, the Building Climate Resilience in Water Stressed Communities (CREST), utilizes a community-based, participatory approach to deliver safe drinking water via hydraulic ram pumps and other innovative water and sanitation technologies that do not require electricity, ensuring long-term sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change. The project is led by an interdisciplinary team of NGOs specializing in water and sanitation appropriate technologies and training.