“Unsafe water can make us sick…it adds to our problems” | Plan International Skip to main content

“Unsafe water can make us sick…it adds to our problems”

When a series of earthquakes struck Marianne and Jek’s remote community in the province of Cotabato on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines last October, it damaged their piped water system forcing the residents to use the old water pumps. But the unsafe water was making them sick so Plan International distributed water kits containing purification solution.

When the first earthquake hit, Marianne, 19, was home alone, “I was studying hard for my exams. When I felt the earth shaking, I ran outside, because our house is not strong enough. I felt scared,” she recalls. “I saw our house moving. Our TV and stuffed toys on display all fell to the floor.”

The earthquakes started on 16 October and continued until the end of the month. “During the last quake, I was cleaning the house. Again, I was alone at home when it happened. My parents were in Concepcion, my sister was at work, and my brother was in another city. Once again, I rushed outside,” says Marianne who vividly remembers the exact date each earthquake happened, where she was and what she was doing.

“After that, there was no water at all. According to news going around town, the water pipes that serve the whole community had been damaged.”

Without piped water, the community has to line up each day to draw water from groundwater pumps, which they use to wash the dishes, do the laundry, cook and even drink. “When the water is unclean and unsafe, we get sick which adds to our problems. The hospital is not always open because it was damaged as well,” Marianne explains.

To support the community, Plan International, with funding support from Prudence Foundation, provided water kits to families as part of our emergency response. The kits include jerry cans and Hyposol solution to purify unclean water.

Thirty-one year old Jek, who was four-months pregnant when the earthquakes struck, received one of the kits.

“When the earthquake happened, it affected our clean water source. I had to resort to using our groundwater pump, which I also share with my neighbours,” she explains. “At first, I was drinking the water directly from the groundwater pump. But eventually I felt afraid that it was unsafe.”

Jek and Marianne have made good use of their kits, especially when the municipal started delivering water via trucks to the community. Initially the water was delivered each day but is now delivered once a week until the regular piped water system is restored.

“Thank you, Plan International. We are one of most remote communities. It is difficult to reach us, but you came through to help. The water kits lighten my daily work,” Jek says. “I hope you continue to help more people.”