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Water technology needs in the Philippines

December 1, 2018
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Access to clean water and sanitation is still varied among the country’s many island economies, and overall strong economic growth is driving rapid development.

The Philippines is the world’s 10th-fastest-growing economy, with annual growth of 6.5 percent projected in 2019. Rapid economic growth has led to unprecedented environmental challenges. In the past few years, the government has recognized the importance of better managing its water and sanitation sector and has proposed ambitious programs that have attracted interest from the international community, NGOs and the private sector.

According to a report from WHO and UNICEF, 91 percent of the Philippines’ estimated population of 101 million have access to basic water services. However, the report also notes that water access is highly inequitable across the country, with access ranging from 62 to 100 percent depending on region.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, only 51 percent of dwellings have piped water supply. Many dwellings rely on protected wells and piped water, and a small percentage rely on natural sources such as rivers, streams, ponds, lakes or rainwater. The survey also revealed that almost 80 percent of households do not practice any treatment method to make water safer to drink.

In terms of sanitation, only about 7 percent of residences have access to sewage treatment programs, and while more than 80 percent of households have septic tanks, most are unmaintained. Even tanks that are maintained through desludging often have their waste disposed of in improper areas.

Recognizing the need to address the above gaps, the National Economic and Development Authority developed the Philippine Water Supply Sector Roadmap and Philippine Sustainable Sanitation Roadmap to serve as roadmaps in achieving the country’s long-term targets of universal access to water supply by 2025 and sanitation by 2028.

The Philippine Department of Budget and Management has budgeted 5.5 billion Philippine pesos ($105 million) for housing and community development in 2019. This budget covers amenities for potable water supply, monitoring of water bodies and classifying water bodies in designated water quality management areas, monitoring of air and water quality in the island of Boracay, hiring of consultants to conduct research on environmental pollution and other related activities.

There are numerous still-untapped opportunities in the water and wastewater sector within the country’s many island economies. For example, in 2018 the government cracked down on hotels and resorts in Boracay that were not complying with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order (DAO) 2016-08, which outlined new water quality guidelines and effluent standards. In addition, in September 2018 the DENR issued Memorandum Order No. 2018-04, which requires accommodation establishments in Boracay (depending on size and location) to construct their own sewage treatment plants that are fully operational and with capability of full treatment for effluent required in DAO 2016-08. The government is applying similar requirements to other beach destinations, such as Bohol, Cebu and Palawan.

The Philippines is highly dependent on imports of water and wastewater treatment products. Wisconsin companies interested in entering the market are advised to partner with local players. For instance, in early 2018 one of the Philippines’ biggest contractors, Megawide Construction Corp., partnered with Toshiba Group’s UEM India for the design and construction of a 2 billion Philippine peso ($38 million), 88-million-liter-per-day water treatment facility for water concessionaire Maynilad.

Since this market is driven by cost, Wisconsin companies will do best if they offer technologies that combine advanced features with an affordable price tag. Demand exists for technological solutions and products across the full range of the water technology spectrum. Experienced companies with turnkey solutions for infrastructure projects in water management and treatment and wastewater treatment are likely to do well in the market. Most opportunities lie either in the sale and implementation of turnkey systems for existing infrastructure or in project development for the Philippines’ expanding water network. In addition, companies may find opportunities to export, which can be assembled into equipment by local partners or used in the local manufacturing of water technology parts.

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