21 April, 2022 12:05 PM

Improving Access to Sanitation: The Story of "CEBU for WASH"

To address the of lack proper access to WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), Group 10 of the Second Cohort of eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN devised a project called “CEBU for WASH” to alleviate the WASH conditions of vulnerable groups in Cebu City in the Philippines. 

Please tell us more about the "CEBU for WASH" project.

With Masy Consultants, our partner organization, already active in community infrastructure and community engagement, CEBU for WASH focused on expanding the scope of WASH promotion activities in the barangays, the Filipino term for villages. Thus, after gaining a clear picture of the situation in the barangays and after an in-depth discussion with representatives from Cebu City Department of Education, barangay management, and local youths, we decided to pursue three initiatives. First, we sought to enhance the standard of WASH in schools by constructing essential facilities. Second, we worked to ensure local people’s ability to maintain good WASH standards in emergencies by providing them with WASH kits. Third, we worked to increase public awareness of WASH through interactive social media activities. 

Due to COVID-19, you had to work remotely from home. Can you tell us how you managed that?

We started our volunteering program in November 2021 with passion and drive. We do activities in a more playful, more interesting way although we are not able to participate in groundworks in Cebu City. We also reach the WASH guidance component; we do training for making soap and disinfectants, create WASH curriculum together with Masy Team and advocate hygiene awareness on social media given the time frame. Throughout its three-month implementation, our project has reached many Filipinos from Suba, Pasil, and Mambaling in Cebu City and provided emergency WASH kits," team member Khaing from Myanmar explained. 

What challenges did you face during the implementation of the project? 

Throughout the course of our three-month project, we were faced with an intense workload and several setbacks. Our team initially had nine members, but the pressure reduced our numbers to six by the project’s conclusion. Though we persevered through it all, our experience accurately demonstrates the challenges of making a difference. 

What's the most impressive or memorable thing you accomplished throughout this project? 

In social work, one’s highest hope is that our effort will improve the lives of the recipients in real, tangible ways. It is certainly bittersweet that our efforts became essential right from the outset. When super typhoon Rai devastated the Philippines last year, we were saddened by its impact on the communities’ livelihoods, but we were relieved that our emergency WASH kits provided local residents with potable water and hygiene products to weather the storm with dignity and good health. Seeing how valuable the kits were, especially the water purifying aqua tabs, we channeled our remaining funds into distributing additional aqua tabs to the affected communities. 

What a story! Any last words you wish to share to wrap this up? 

Though we live in different countries, speak different languages, and operate in different time zones, we came together virtually to shape and deliver our project according to the communities’ needs in a way that was much more timely than we ever could have anticipated, and learned a great deal along the way. This was our story of fighting for better WASH in Cebu City, Philippines. 

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