An aerial view (left photo) of Quirino, Ilocos Sur shows that one of the major rivers in Northern Luzon, the Abra River, flows through the area while Municipal and barangay officials and employees (middle photo) lead the ribbon-cutting of the water system (right photo) in Bucnit, Namitpit, Quirino, Ilocos Sur.

Community volunteers have ended the quest for clean and safe water in Bucnit, Namitpit, Quirino, Ilocos Sur with the construction of a water system through the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi – CIDSS) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 1 (DSWD FO 1).

Bucnit lies in the Cordillera mountain ranges where trees are abundant. The Abra River, one of the major rivers in the Northern Philippines, and other tributaries flow through the area.

But as for the I-Bucnit, clean and safe water for household consumption was a big concern during summer when springs dry up. Since the first cycle of Kalahi – CIDSS, the community had been identifying this problem as the topmost priority to be addressed and had been diligently lobbying for funding from the program.

It was only during the third cycle of the program when Bucnit Water System was finally prioritized in the Municipal Inter-Barangay Forum – Participatory Resource Allocation (MIBF-PRA). A total of PhP 1,831,863.15 was awarded to fund the sub-project. It is the fifth water system sub-project in Quirino since the first cycle that was prioritized under Kalahi-CIDSS.

Saanminto a malipatan daytoy a programa ta dakkel ti naitulong na kadakami (We will never forget this program because it helped us a lot),” said Punong-Barangay Gil Suminggao in his speech during the inauguration. “Adda water source ngem agkurang ti pondo ti barangay ken munisipyo. Agyaman kami ta adda ti Kalahi-CIDSS nga nangpondo daytoy (We have a water source, but the local government has no enough fund. We thank Kalahi-CIDSS for funding this).”

In response to the challenge of Punong-Barangay Suminggao that he posed during the inauguration, Roger Valdez, President of the Bucnit Water System Association (BUWSA), revealed that the association has already designed and approved measures on how to maintain said sub-project so that it will still be functioning fifty (50) years from now.

The BUWSA which is composed of the same community volunteers who constructed the sub-project was created to safeguard the operations and maintenance of the Level II Water System.

Valdez disclosed that the 3.5 by 3.5 meters water tank is closed from 8 o’clock in the evening to 5 o’clock in the morning of the following day in order to give time for the water tank to be fully filled for consumption on an entire day. It is also a way of teaching residents to conserve water.

To cover the costs of operation and maintenance, an amount of PhP 30.00 is collected for a lifetime membership and on top of that is another PhP 200.00 for an annual membership. Other fees include PhP 50.00 for every absence during assemblies and PhP 100.00 – 500.00 fines for illegal connections depending on the frequency of the offense.  (by Ruperto A. Sabalo, Jr., Social Marketing Officer, Kalahi-CIDSS)