Ensuring safe drinking water for upland communities of Cagayan de Oro

For some of us, satisfying our thirst with clean and safe drinking water is as simple as filling a glass from a faucet or a water dispenser. This is not the case for most people living in the rural barangays of Cagayan de Oro, where access to a safe drinking water is no longer as simple as it used to be.

Among these barangays is Tuburan, one among the eighty Cagayan de Oro City communities. The barangay is located about kilometers southwest of the city center. 

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The community stated that the increasing water stress was due to mismanagement of their water sources. Among their expressed examples of mismanagement was the rampant mining activities in the past years. Mining, they said, posed a threat to a clean water supply in the upland barangays, especially among the children. The deterioration in water quality continued over the years. In 2015, the variations and extremes in the weather patterns further diminished the quantity of their supply.

Fortunately, no major cases of waterborne diseases have been reported so far. Nevertheless some families, particularly those with small children err on the side of caution and opt to buy purified water at 50 pesos per container. This is no small amount, which when added to other priority expenses such as food, housing and medicines, consumes the poor families’ income. Those who cannot afford purified water continue to fetch it from the barangay’s available water stations.

The need was so grave that during the formulation of Barangay Tuburan’s Development Plan, which was facilitated by Balay Mindanaw, among their priority issues was their limited access to safe drinking water.

Installation of the Skyhydrant, a community-based ultra filtration water supply system

During the actual installation of Skyhydrant, the unit is placed near the Barangay Health Center

On June 10, 2015 a Skyhydrant was installed at Barangay Tuburan. The Skyhydrant is a user-friendly community-based water ultrafiltration system. A single unit can produce up to 10,000 liters of filtered water a day, directly benefiting about 500 families and almost 1,000 school children attending local public schools. This was a gift from Disaster Aid Australia, a humanitarian organization providing relief and assistance to developing countries, particularly those that suffer from calamities.

The barangay leadership was grateful for the gift of water. In her message during the community orientation, Punong Barangay Coronacion Yanez acknowledged the importance of the Skyhydrant by saying that “animals need water in order to live, (the) same is true with human beings”.She then thanked Disaster Aid, Balay Mindanaw and everyone concerned for the welfare of people living in rural areas.

Disaster Aid International (DAI) and Balay Mindanaw have been major partners since 2011, after Typhoon Sendong hit Cagayan de Oro.

 During the Hand-Over Ceremony of the Skyhydrant , June 27 2015 at Barangay Tuburan.

Sky Juice Foundation, the manufacturer of the Skyhydrant, is a non-profit organization based in Australia. Their charter is to provide low-cost, sustainable water treatment solutions for humanitarian programs and for emergency relief.

 The Baylans (Priest) from the Higaonon Tribe performed a ritual to bless the Skyhydrant and the Water that passes through the filtration system