US government brings water demand management expertise to the Philippines

MANILA, October 21, 2015 — The U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a series of fora on “Coping with El Niño and Climate Change” to present water demand management as a viable option for addressing water security concerns.

Three national fora were held in Manila with key decision makers from across the Philippines:

October 20: Water Demand Management Forum for Government Policy Makers

October 21: Water Demand Management Forum for the Social Sector

October 23: Water Demand Management Forum for the Business Sector and Launch of the Water Alliance

The country is already experiencing water shortages, which are expected to continue into 2016. Furthermore, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the Philippines is bracing for possibly the strongest El Niño event in history. Climate change is also projected to affect the water supply throughout the country.

“Given the increasing demand for water and its declining availability, water demand management is the vital next step, so vital, that it is now a target of the newly approved United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” said USAID Mission Director Dr. Susan Brems. “We look forward to working with the government of the Philippines to achieve these new goals and ensure that the Philippines is better prepared to face water shortages from this El Niño event and future impacts of climate change.”

The U.S. government, through USAID’s Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth Project, is bringing international water demand management experts to the Philippines to share their expertise with government officials and members of civil society and the private sector. These experts include: Ms. Maysoon Zoubi, former Secretary General of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation for Jordan; Dr. Stuart White, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia; and Ms. Mary Ann Dickinson, President and CEO, Alliance for Water Efficiency, California, USA. With Australia and California currently experiencing their sixth year of drought, and with Jordan being a water-stressed country, these experts’ experiences and knowledge are very relevant for the Philippines.

All fora included discussions about measures to develop and implement water demand management strategies and policies. Key topics included labeling water fixtures, reusing treated water for agriculture, building reservoirs, and education and behavior change related to water efficiency and conservation. USAID held similar events in Iloilo and Zamboanga to share with local decision makers options that reduce water demand, improve management, and increase water security. Iloilo and Zamboanga are key cities under USAID’s Cities Development Initiative, a partnership within the bilateral Partnership for Growth, which spurs secondary cities to become regional growth hubs.

As part of the water demand management forum on October 23, USAID also launched the Water Alliance. The Water Alliance is a partnership between USAID, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and businesses that are committed to creating solutions to water security challenges in the Philippines.#