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“Water is life”, assert residents of Brgy. Lupig, in Sta. Rita, Samar. This is how they see this very important resource that they’ve been longing to access easily for quite some time.

Ironically, this community nestled in a place that’s endowed with lush forests and rich natural bounties has long been struggling for enough water supply to support their household and agricultural needs.

“Such need cannot be understated. Hence, finding ways to meet this necessity is a must for every household,” shares Wilbur Abugan, a resident of Brgy. Lupig.

Some face the water scarcity issue by using cemented deep well, water pumps, and rainwater harvesting. During the dry season, residents take time to fetch water from a spring that does not dry-up located in a sitio far from the barangay proper.

However, these sources could not provide enough supply for both their agricultural and household needs. Hope springs eternal. To this maxim, the residents hold on, keeping their faith in the government and its vision of a strongly rooted, secure, and comfortable life for every “Juan”.

True enough, in 2017, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) came into the community laying upon them a program that will make them as the agency’s partner in protecting the environment, their very source of living. They embraced DENR’s program without knowing that this, too, shall answer their long-standing water scarcity problem.

A people’s organization named Lupig Farmers Association (LFA), composed of twenty four (24) members was tapped by the DENR to perform activities for the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP). Along with their own daily farming activities, they produced seedlings, developed a tree planting site, and conducted tree planting activities to re-green a 50-hectare forestland under the ENGP.

To ensure growth of their planted species and maintain their NGP plantation, the people’s organization was provided One Million Eight Hundred Thirty Thousand Pesos (1,830,000.00) for the establishment of a Small Water Impounding System (SWIS) in 2017. This is a small scale earth dam structure with a height of 5 to 15 meters constructed to collect and store rainfall and water runoff primarily to supply water to NGP sites.

Serving its purpose, the SWIS provided enough water for LFA’s ENGP planting site, resulting to a 90% survival rating of its established plantation per regional validation conducted in December 2019.

Seeing that the SWIS was providing more than enough for their site, the PO thought of supplying water to their members for household use. Their plan for the establishment of a water distribution system from the SWIS to the households was immediately realized by utilizing a meager fund from their NGP generated livelihood activities.

Together, the members labored to install pipes and fittings from the SWIS located upland to reach their homes. “The need for sufficient and accessible water supply in our homes made the seemingly laborious job of installing water pipes from the mountains to the lowlands easy. We didn’t even need the services of experts, we did it on our own”, a PO member said.

Allan Lapide, President of Lupig Farmers Association said the comfort felt by its members should also be felt by the rest of the community. Knowing the struggle for enough water supply that the community has long been dealing with, the association decided to expand their water services to the rest of the barangay residents.

“Our goal was to provide water supply to most households in our barangays before our fiesta. It’s a simple way of making the people of Barangay Lupig comfortable especially during celebrations they value and enjoy most”, says Mr. Lapide.

Lo and behold, the LFA started supplying water to the rest of the community in December 2019.

“We were elated with the installation of faucets in our kitchen sinks and comfort rooms. We need not callous our hands carrying heavy buckets and containers from a spring far away to our houses for cooking and bathing. Such experience is priceless”, Reynaldo Semingen, a resident of Brgy. Lupig sighs in relief.

Collecting a minimal amount of twenty pesos per cubic meter, LFA now supplies to almost one hundred forty (145) households within their barangay. They proudly share that if consumers will pay their dues religiously, the organization can collect around P15,000.00 per month, a significant addition to their income, indeed. The maintenance of their SWIS is also sourced from this collection.

The PO President however shares, “our goal is to make the lives of our fellows more comfortable. Some of them plead to pay us beyond their due dates, to which we understandably concur”.

He added that beyond comfort for all, supplying water to households is also a means towards encouraging the community to get involved in environment and natural resources conservation.

Part of their campaign is informing the community that lush and flourishing forests would enrich their source of water and sustainably provide enough for the community. “With such campaign, we are now more mindful of our activities that may affect our verdant environment,” Mr. Abugan agrees.

“With such campaign, we are now more mindful of our activities that may affect our verdant environment,” Mr. Abugan agrees.

He also said that the community is now on guard against illegal logging and kaingin and are now more active and involved in environmental activities.

With such experience, Mr. Lapide shared that they shall continue to support the Department’s programs and projects and ensure that their environment is protected.

Meanwhile, DENR Regional Executive Director Tirso P. Parian, Jr. lauded the PO’s compassion for the entire community and for considering the welfare and comfort of everyone. “The effort of the people’s organization to extend the benefits they get from the ENGP to the community and help end the problem on water scarcity while promoting environmental protection and conservation is just commendable”, Director Parian says.