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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has joined forces with the Manila City government, water concessionaire Maynilad, and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) to address open defecation problem in Manila Bay.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu recently led the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the implementation of “Project: Kubeta Ko,” which aims to provide temporary sanitation facilities to informal settler families (ISFs) in one of Manila’s most depressed communities—the Parola area in Tondo, Manila.

The DENR and the Manila City government have identified the Parola area as an “open defecation hotspot,” noting that its residents are notorious for “openly defecating into the waters of Manila Bay, as they are residing in stilt houses.”

“With this project, we will be able to change the culture of ISFs, so that they will be able to excrete wastes privately and in a dignified manner, while contributing to the eventual cleanliness of Manila Bay,” said Cimatu, who heads the task force formed by President Rodrigo Duterte to facilitate the rehabilitation of the heavily polluted water body.

Open defecation is not only an affront to dignity, but also a dangerous practice that directly pollutes the waters of Manila Bay, and cause health problems.

Going to the toilet in the open puts people at risk of picking up and spreading a host of diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and other waterborne diseases, also including intestinal worm infection, and malnutrition and stunting of children.

“Project: Kubeta Ko” covers the procurement and maintenance of 400 units of portable, container-based toilet for the ISFs at the Parola area.

Under the MOA, the DENR would extend P10 million in financial assistance to the Manila City government, with a US$ 160,000 contribution from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for the implementation of the project, including the operational costs for one year.

As the procuring entity and beneficiary of the project, the local government of Manila is tasked to ensure that the delivered goods will be properly installed, tested and maintained.

It is also expected to perform social preparation activities in Parola and ensure the cooperation of target beneficiaries in the implementation of the project.

Maynilad is responsible for the treatment of waste to be generated, while MWSS is in charge of monitoring the project and providing necessary assistance to the parties.

Aside from Cimatu, other signatories to the MOA were Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Maynilad president and CEO Ramoncito Fernandez, and MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat. ###