“Sauna lisod kaayu nya maki-share lang kami ug CR sa among silingan (Before, we had to share  toilets and comfort rooms with our neighbors),” said Arlie Jean Bayhonan, a resident of Brgy. Upper Cabangcalan in the Municipality of Lazi, Siquijor.

Arlie is among the 56 households in Upper Cabangcalan, which, according to a 2016 survey by the barangay, do not have their own toilets. Residents in the village usually share comfort rooms with their neighbors, while others are forced to resort to defecating in the open.

Open defecation has been a sanitation challenge at the barangay for quite a time—until the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) helped the village address it.

The DSWD, through its Field Office (FO) in Region VII, recently turned over 67 individual toilets and a solar-powered water system to the residents of the barangay, constructed under the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) program.

Kalahi-CIDSS is a poverty-alleviation program implemented by the DSWD which uses the community-driven development (CDD) approach, a method where communities in poor municipalities identify challenges around reducing poverty and decide on a range of locally identified options for development.

The sub-projects, which have a total combined project cost of P1,941,474, were identified by the members of the community to improve sanitation in the village by providing residents access to stable water supply and by achieving their goal of zero open defecation (ZOD).

The solar-powered water system was constructed with a grant of P1,125,474 from DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS, while the construction of comfort rooms sub-project had a grant of P816,000.

For the construction of the individual toilets, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of the Municipality of Lazi gave a local cash counterpart of P109,114, while the Barangay Local Government Unit (BLGU) provided 11 additional toilet bowls to the newly identified beneficiaries not included in the 2016 survey.

Residents of the barangay, including Arlie, were grateful for the implementation of the sub-projects in their village.

“Nalipay kaayo ko, nga nahimo ko nga usa sa beneficiary nga nahatagan aning maong kasilyas (I am happy that I am one of the beneficiaries of the comfort room sub-project),” shared Arlie.

Arlie, who is also a beneficiary of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the DSWD, said that she learned in their Family Development Sessions that the practice of open space defecation may lead to serious negative effects on human health and to the environment.

Gemma Lumingkit, a rural health midwife in Lazi, also expressed her gratitude for the sub-projects.

“We are happy that DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS provided funds for these households to have individual comfort rooms. We hope that in the next validation, we can declare Brgy. Upper Cabangcalan a ZOD community,” she shared.

Meanwhile, Lazi Municipal Mayor James Monte hoped that the sub-projects of the DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS can help Upper Carmen be declared a ZOD barangay. This can help the whole municipality of Lazi, she said, retain its title of being Siquijor’s Cleanest and Greenest Municipality—an award it bagged in September last year.

DSWD Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Emmanuel A. Leyco said, “The improvement of water and sanitation in poor communities is a step towards a better quality of life for residents.”

“The DSWD through the Kalahi-CIDSS program has been helping communities address their needs not just for livelihood opportunities, but also for adequate water, good sanitation, and proper waste management, which are all fundamental to good health and to socio and economic development. The sub-projects implemented in Lazi, Siquijor just prove that with a little help from the government, communities can achieve their goals for development through their own collective efforts,” he added. ###