July 2016

ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION, a right denied

On 28 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution that recognizes the human right to water and sanitation, since they are both necessary in order to guarantee human dignity and the realisation of all human rights. Still, according to Water.org 1 in 10 people lack access to safe water and 1 in 3 lack access to a toilet. In some countries the situation is particularly dramatic: WHO’s 2014 statistics registered in the Pacific West Region 94,000 deaths due to diseases and complications caused by lack of clean water and sanitation. Water.org estimates also that 26 millions Filipinos do not enjoy these basic services. This is caused by many factors among those urbanization, population growth and environmental pollution and everything gets even worse after natural disasters and their negative impact on resources supply and distribution. In the country the lack of clean water and, on the other hand, the large use made of contaminated water, leads to an almost unbelievable result. “Unsafe water kills more people than wars each year“,  “A lack of clean water and sanitation in the Philippines kills 55 people every day“, “Diarrhea from dirty water has killed 9 in Zamboanga City since March” : these are some of the headings of articles published in recent years dealing with the water issue. Last April the Cebu City Mayor, Mike Rama, proclaimed state of emergency because of an alarming water scarcity affecting 98% of the residents of the city’s barangays (read the article here). According to the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines within 2025 Philippines could experience drought in water supply.

But this kind of situation doesn’t have to be hopeless. Indeed, a urgent action is needed, led by many different national and international actors for the improvement of water security, access and management. Such activities do already exist: for instance, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is conducting the #BeSecure project aimed at managing in an appropriate way the demand for water and sanitation. And above all, the biggest collaboration despite the difficulties is requested to the Filipino population, that has to learn how to preserve water and how to reduce waste and pollution.

Faucet-water-supply-5© http://www.philstar.com/business/2016/05/06/1580199/eccp-sounds-alarm-key-philippine-cities-risk-severe-water-shortage

THE FIRST 1000 DAYS: fighting malnutrition in the Philippines

We have already explained in our blog that malnutrition in the Philippines is a widespread problem and worsen by the difficult natural conditions that negatively influence the quantity of available food. This is confirmed by recent data: according to the Global Hunger Index 2015, developed by the Food Policy Research Institute to monitor the level of hunger on a global scale, with a score of 20.1/100 the Philippines are among those countries that present one of the most worrying scenarios. Malnutrition is a multidimensional issue that can’t be solved through a single and simple solution. Nevertheless, this month an important field of intervention has been highlighted by the National Nutrition Council, agency of the filipino government. In the country July is the month dedicated to nutrition and the chosen theme is “First 1000 Days ni baby pahalagahan para sa malusog na kinabukasan – that means, “nurture your baby’s first 1000 days for an healthy future”. The first 1000 days of life, pregnancy included, are in fact a “window of opportunity”: it is during this time frame that the quality and quantity of food one receives influence the rest of their life in a positive or negative way, from a physical (immune system, predisposition to chronical diseases in the medium and long term) and mental (ability to learn, school performance) point of view. In the Philippines children’ malnutrition is a serious issue: one child in 3 suffers from stunting and some children do not reach the age of 5; others leave school and then become adults particularly vulnerable to diseases with negative consequences in the work sector. This leads to bad living conditions and poverty for the single individual but it also has repercussions at the national level in terms of economic development and prosperity. If the “first 1000 days” include the pregnancy period this is not by chance: it has been noted that malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children. Kito Onlus operates trying to put an end to this vicious circle able to transcend generations: this is the reason why it focuses not only on children’ health but also on future mothers’ well-being and it promotes a policy of family planning through birth control.

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San Francisco Health Center: news about the progresses!

As you may already know if you have been following us on our social networks, Kito Onlus’s President Paola Vecchiato was on a mission in the Philippines from the 18th to the 29th of June 2016 to monitor the works in progress of the San Francisco’s Health Center, in the Camotes Islands. During her stay Paola had the chance to discuss and work with some of the local actors involved in the project; among them, Monique Piquero, Chief of the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit in San Francisco, Gary Muana, Operations and Warning Officer in the same unit, Marcelo Roslinda, engineer of the local construction firm YES Construction (in charge of the health center’s construction works) and the vice mayor Al Arquillano.

Indeed the progresses are remarkable, and doors, windows and and the roof have been built!

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Our Health Center aims at being an example of green building. The structure is in fact designed, built and managed in a sustainable and efficient manner. Construction materials are purchased locally, in order to spare the energy and the resources that would be necessary to transport them to the building site. As a green building the health center interacts with the surrounding habitat in a positive way because the site’s integrity and natural characteristics have been preserved. Moreover, it’s the Barangay’s community itself that takes part to the construction works – for instance, women and girls were in charge of working the bamboo that was then used for the facades.

All of this is a practical representation of the philosophy and the way of working of Kito Onlus: it entails giving the local population the opportunity of working and gaining money for the single individual and his/her family while starting to develop a sense of ownership towards the project, that is something more than just using it as a beneficiary once it’s done.

To conclude, we want to point out once again that this project wouldn’t be possibile without the contribution of the funds Otto Per Mille of the Waldesian Evangelical Church.

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New construction training in San Francisco!

After the “typhoon-prone construction training” held last March in the Barangay Esperanza of San Francisco (Camotes Islands, Philippines) and of which you can read about here, on the 25th June 2016 Kito Onlus proposed the “building back better principle” training, this time in the Barangay Santiago. The course, one afternoon long and with 25 carpenters as participants, aimed at giving the necessary notions to build or re-build houses and buildings in a safe way and at suggesting the actions that have to be undertaken in case of an emergency.

The first part of the training, held by Kito Onlus’ President Paola Vecchiato, focused on technical and practical aspects. After a community mapping, 8 slides were shown, which were aimed at pointing out the importance of different construction elements, from foundations to joints; participants learned that houses, need to be built in a proper way, especially when using light local materials, in order to be resistant against storms and typhoons. Finally it has been explained that also the location and the shape of the structures have a fundamental role. Practical examples have been made and participants were involved in case-studies.

The principles of a typhoon- and earthquakes-prone construction were applied in the building of the Health Center in the Barangay Esperanza, where local materials were used and local beneficiaries were involved in the construction works.

In the second part, Monique Piquero, Chief of the Disaster Risk Reduction Unit and Gary Muana, Operations and Warning Officer of the DRR in San Francisco, talked about prevention and what to do during emergencies. The two speakers outlined the necessity of having an evacuation plan always ready, of recognising the alarm signals for emergencies and of foreseeing ways to contact relatives and friends when the danger is over. They also suggested the participants to prepare a grab bag, which means a bag containing everything’s useful during an evacuation, waterproof and light enough to be carried around. Such a bag should, for example, always include a medical kit, clothes, comfortable shoes, batteries, torches and matches, water, food, cooking tools and important documents.

As in the typhoon-prone construction training, participants were given an evaluation questionnaire, to verify their comprehension of the course’s contents, and hammers.

Also this time Kito Onlus is satisfied with the training’s successful outcome!

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