Indigenous Philippines Community Looks to the Sky for Renewable Drinking Water Created from Sunlight and Air
Apr 08, 2022
SOURCE Global, PBC and Conservation International announced their third successful collaboration, which will deliver sustainable, clean drinking water - and accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) - to the Binta’t Karis Indigenous peoples of Iraan, Rizal, Palawan.
This will offset more than two million plastic water bottles, and will markedly improve the health and quality of life for local residents, as demonstrated by two earlier collaborations between SOURCE and Conservation International, in Bahia Hondita, Colombia and Atauro Island in Timor Leste. Global nonprofit climate-tech accelerator Elemental Excelerator funded the grant supporting the effort, and both the United States Embassy, Manila and the Philippines government were instrumental in expediting the installation.
“Remote locations - otherwise nearly impossible to serve - are where SOURCE Hydropanels shine; and this Palawan indigenous community now has renewable, cost-efficient, and clean drinking water that will improve their lives,” said Cody Friesen, Founder and CEO of SOURCE. “Access to safe drinking water is fundamental to students learning and thriving as they grow. Our partnership with Conservation International is focused on delivering this basic human right, even in the hardest-to-reach locations.”
The community of Binta’t Karis is approximately a five hour drive from the nearest major city, and located in the protected area of Mount Mantalingahan, the highest point on the Philippines’ fifth largest island. The area has limited water infrastructure, most of which is powered by gravity to reach communities at the base of the mountains. This does not serve the Binta’t Karis, who live at a higher elevation. Now, families and students at Binta’t Karis Elementary School will have access to safe, potable water for drinking, cooking and sanitation.
“The lack of a reliable and clean water source, and the sicknesses this caused, has troubled this school and their community greatly over the years. Now, community members don't have to dig out the river banks for water, or carry it in heavy containers to their homes. And this summer when the river dries up, there won’t be worry about where they can get drinking water as there is an accessible and consistently available source of clean water,” said Ma. Pearl Lagrada, community administrator. “This project is a substantial gift to Binta’t Karis Iskulat Palawan and to the whole Palawano tribal community. We are thankful for SOURCE and for CI for making this happen despite the difficulty and distance of our location.”
“In Palawan's highlands, access to basic water services for the indigenous communities is poor and water-borne diseases remain prevalent,” said Enrique Nunez, Country Executive Director, CI Philippines. “Providing clean, healthy freshwater that is easy to access will improve health, and will allow those who previously dedicated time to collecting water, predominantly mothers and teenagers, to focus on other activities that benefit themselves and their families.”
In 2016, Conservation International helped develop and implement the integrated management plan of Palawan’s Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) and supported the establishment of the nation’s first conservation trust fund to ensure long-term financing for the sustainable landscape. Building on this, Conservation International and partners aim to develop natural climate solutions in the MMPL that conserve and restore critical ecosystems while also supporting economic growth for poverty reduction. The MMPL contains 120,000 hectares that provide more than $5.5 billion in ecosystem services including a vital watershed for 200,000 people.
“It is mission-critical at Elemental to fund companies like SOURCE that are leading the way in creating alternative solutions to our already strained ground and surface water bodies," said Kim Baker, Director of Water Innovation at Elemental Excelerator. “The decentralization of water infrastructure is a pivotal trend, particularly in locations where the time and capital required for centralized piping to reach the full population aren't readily available, and grid-tied services are simply not an option. This project is proof we can quickly and cost-effectively expand clean water access to communities across the world.”
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