To ensure safe and affordable water for all, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-MIMAROPA has been putting its innovative solutions in place to improve access to quality drinking water in remote off-grid communities, especially on the far-flung islands in the physically fragmented region.
Poblacion, the center and one of the 14 barangays that make up Dumaran Island, has now secured a reliable drinking water source after DOST-MIMAROPA provided a solar-powered purification system in a water refilling station built and managed by the local government unit in the area.
Despite being surrounded by vast expanses of water, 80.14% of households in Dumaran have no access to clean water for drinking and sanitation, posing a serious health risk to residents and a threat to the development of the remote island.
Dumaran Island is located off the northeastern flank of Palawan, approximately 34.1 km. from the mainland, and is accessible via pump boat for at least an hour, weather permitting. As it is not connected to any water line, families have long struggled to have accessible quality and safe water. For years, most of them fetch water from deep wells, which they then purify using a makeshift filter made from containers, funnel, sand, and charcoal. Those who can afford to travel to the mainland to buy purified water from refilling stations spend around PHP 75.00 for a 5-gallon container plus the transportation cost. Some enterprising traders travel for about two hours across the sea to source out potable water from Roxas Water District and sell them inside the island for PHP 40.00 to 45.00 per gallon.
With DOST-MIMAROPA’s assistance, residents of Brgy. Poblacion in Dumaran now has an easy and guaranteed-safe accessible water source and filter system which is connected to an existing water source in the area. The system employs two technologies— the solar-powered water pump and the water treatment machine.
The solar-powered water pump is driven by direct sunlight and has a built-in sensing device to maintain the required volume inside the storage tank. It is best suited for the area since power outages are frequent.
On the other hand, the water treatment machine performs water purification by removing solids and other contaminants in the water using the two-stage reverse osmosis process. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a water purification method that uses pressure to remove ions, large molecules, and other unwanted particles. This membrane-filtration technology harnesses electricity. However, it only consumes little energy, so operating costs are relatively low.
The residents now enjoy accessible purified water which was offered for free several months after the installation. This 2021, a small fee will be collected from residents for the maintenance of the facility and sustenance of its operations. Since its operation in November 2020, a total of 20,000 liters of purified water has already been produced.
“Ito ay napakalaking tulong sa aming mga residente dahil sa ngayon, bukod sa ito ay napapakinabangan nila ng libre, lalo’t higit sa lahat, ito ay malinis at ligtas na inumin”, said Hon. Arnel Caabay, the mayor of Dumaran. He also shared that acquiring water-borne diseases from the unsafe water had been their constant worry on the island for a long time.
He added: “Ang pagkakaroon ng isang malinis, maayos at ligtas na tubig para sa kalusugan ng aming mga mamamayan ay matagal naming pinangarap dito sa islang bahagi ng aming Bayan.”
Prior to this intervention, Dumaran was also previously assisted by DOST-MIMAROPA in enhancing livelihood opportunities, health and nutrition, education, and public safety in the island via a range of STI interventions.
Dumaran Community Factory
The Dumaran Community Factory is a facility established in 2014 that houses different technologies for food processing. Locals are using the facility and the technologies for free to produce a variety of products for livelihood such as but not limited to cashew and cassava-based products and baked goodies.
Through the factory, a resident was able to become a full-fledged entrepreneur and open the first-ever, albeit small, home-based bakery on the island that provides to Poblacion and other barangays in the island. Now, residents can buy and consume bread anytime without having to purchase from other municipalities, which usually are across the sea.
Also, cashew-based products such as cashew butter were developed by another resident using the facility. Cashew butter is now among the popular products from the island being sold to locals and tourists.
Dumaran Community Factory has become a source of livelihood and income for locals and recorded a combined gross income by users amounting to more than a million pesos.
S&T Scholarships Reaching the Island
Major progress was made in increasing access to educational opportunities on the island of Dumaran in the past years. DOST-MIMAROPA has been conducting review sessions and scholarship promotions to encourage students to take up careers in science and technology.
Since 2014, two (2) young students from the island were qualified and awarded with DOST Scholarship. One of them has now graduated and chose to give back as an employee of DOST-MIMAROPA.
Enriching Children’s Nutrition
Undernourished children from the island aged 6-36 months were provided with DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) developed complementary baby food through a 120- day feeding program to elevate their nutritional status.
In partnership with Dumaran Municipal Nutrition Action Office, all malnourished children (25 children) in Brgy. Teresita participated in the feeding program. After the intervention, all children have improved their nutritional status with 8 children being elevated to underweight from severely underweight and 17 children having attained normal status.
Keeping LGUs and Community Prepared during Disasters
DOST-MIMAROPA also provided the local government unit an early warning system that makes use of the Automated Rain Gauge (ARG) and Water Level Monitoring Sensor (WLMS), to keep local authorities and the community more prepared, safe, and alert during weather disturbances.
The early warning device was installed in Alimoto Bridge, Brgy. Teresita to keep track of the water level and aid the LGU in planning for a course of action to take to reduce impacts of disasters in the area and save lives and properties.
DOST-MIMAROPA noted that these interventions form part of the ongoing efforts to alleviate poverty and empower disadvantaged and vulnerable communities in the region by providing sustainable opportunities under the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program. CEST pivots initiatives that address development challenges related, but not limited to, livelihood, health and nutrition, education, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation, and environmental protection and conservation. (with reports from Phyllicia Anne Baguyo)