Severe flooding events in 2011 and 2017 have shown that the Cagayan de Oro (CdO) river catchment, CdO institutions and citizens, and in particular its water supply system are still vulnerable to flooding. The “Ridge to Coast, Rain to Tap” (R2CR2T) project aims to tackle this vulnerability at different levels via an integrated approach to improve the resilience of the water supply. In R2CR2T, COWD is working to improve its resilience via a partnership with the Netherlands drinking water VEI and several other strategic partners.
VEI’s 3,000 staff ensure 24/7 drinking water supply to almost 12 million customers in the Netherlands via a distribution network of more than 90,000 kilometers. Just like COWD, VEI is publicly owned (by local governments), but independently operated. Outside of the Netherlands VEI partners with public water utilities (water districts), to improve their performance and to expand the delivery of safe water supply to previously unserved areas, often inhabited by urban poor. These international “Water Operator Partnership” projects are always not-for-profit. Some years ago, COWD invited VEI to develop a partnership in Cagayan de Oro.
Our partnership with COWD started in January 2018 and will last for 5 years until Dec 2022. During these 5 years, COWD and VEI intend to complete several improvements in the COWD organization. This will be realized mainly via Technical Assistance (trainings & on-the-job support for NRW reduction, Water Safety Planning, laboratory and HR), but also via investments in production and distribution assets and management tools for the organization. Some of COWD’s critical water production assets will be elevated/protected against flooding, while joint capacity building activities aim to improve operational and financial performance and long-term planning. Via the Manila based company FRRL, the project also invests in supporting the IT backbone of COWD via GIS, hydraulic modelling, water meter management and asset management software. These tools facilitate better decision making and long-term planning, as well as short-term savings on energy costs and Non-Revenue Water (NRW).
COWD’s water supply coverage will be expanded to up to 7,000 previously unserved households in relocation areas. In these same areas and in nearby schools, the Philippines and Netherlands Red Cross will improve sanitation conditions and disaster preparedness. Flood resilience will be tackled both directly at the level of the water supply infrastructure, and at a systemic level in the river basin. Under the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council, the project aims to establish an enabling environment in which CdO- and Bukidnon- stakeholders will cooperate towards flood risk reduction, and will show via several pilot reforestation interventions how these can be implemented sustainably to reduce flooding.
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