By Lucille Grosjean, ACF Communication Officer, Cebu
Even in an emergency, the construction of a water tank is a community effort.
In the Dayhagan hamlet on Tuesday morning, villagers are waiting to greet the Action Against Hunger teams. Since the typhoon damaged the village’s wells and contaminated their water supply, 300 people – almost all fishermen on the northern coast of the island of Panay – have had no clean water to drink.
Edgar and Maria, both hydraulics specialists from ACF Philippines, have loaded a truck with the necessary equipment to set up a drinking water tank and latrines in the village. “The equipment had been stored in Manila as part of contingency stocks established by the mission in preparation for potential emergencies. It took several days to reach Roxas, the main town on the island,” says Edgar. “We worked with the authorities in the area to make water tank trucks available and implement a proper tank system, so water can be supplied regularly from a safe source.”
Once all of the supplies came together, the ACF teams moved on to building the water tank itself with the villagers. It was necessary to build a high platform so a good flow can be provided between the tank and the valves that provide water access. Because Dayhagan is located by the sea, sand from the beach was used for this purpose.
While strong men from the village carried sand and built the platform, the rest of the village was in the central square, ready to help however they could: making sand bags, finding small stones to put around the tap so the area does not get muddy, and so on. Some just watched the excitement and welcomed the ACF teams to the village. The construction of the water source is a big event!
Villager Kema Bergera, 40 years old, was one of the observers: “I lost my house during the typhoon,” said Kema. “My family and I have nothing. For now, we’re staying in the center of village health with other affected families.”
ACF chose to install the water system next to the health center / evacuation centre. This way it can serve to the health centre, which previously had no water, as well as the visitors.
“Here, we are almost all fishermen. The typhoon heavily damaged our boats. In my family, we lost our boat and our home, and at the moment we do not have enough money to repair either,” explained Kema. “Our son, who lives in another village, is helping us now. I do not know how long we will have to stay in the evacuation center. Fortunately, here is a lot of solidarity in the village.”
Now, the fire truck in the municipality brings in water from a treatment plant, which our water experts have declared safe. The entire village joins in to fill the tank.
Everyone marvels at the end result – the water “bladder”, a large water tank that resembles a water bed. When the water begins to flow in the taps, everyone applauds and children began to play in the water! People line up to test the tap.
This is an important step in the village towards recovery, and it is a huge relief to the entire community. They no longer feel so alone.