Philippines | Food & Water Watch
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Mel Newburn

Philippines

“Water, being the basic foundation of life, should be made available
to all. This right, the most basic of all human rights, will never be
respected under a regime that treats water provision as an
income-generating business enterprise.”

- Member of the Freedom From Debt Coalition in the Philippines.

The Philippines implemented the world’s first solar-powered prepaid meter system in 2003. The rural water project constructed in Ronda, Cebu uses solar panels to power ten communal pumps in the area. Residents must buy cards, which are then inserted into the machine to get water. When the card is out of money, users are out of water. What is promoted as a forward-thinking technology has the same regressive consequences of all prepaid water meters: the poor are unable to access sufficient amounts of water.

The project was funded by a loan from the Philippine National Bank and constructed by WorldWater (Philippines) Inc., a subsidiary of New Jersey-based WorldWater Corp. The President of the subsidiary is John D. Herrman, former U.S. Trade and Development Agency Executive for the Far East.

Before the meters were constructed, residents paid roughly PhP2.50 per cubic meter of water. But the cost of the loan for construction of the PhP5.3 million project is being passed to consumers. Ronda Waterworks Sanitation Service Cooperative (Rowasseco) estimates that residents are now paying PhP150 per cubic meter of water, a dramatic increase. Not surprisingly, Rowasseco and other community groups immediately labeled the project ‚anti-poor and oppressive.”