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JSPES, Vol. 45, No. 1-2 (Spring-Summer 2020)
pp. 46-62

Global Water Shortages: A Philippines Case Study 

Rosalina Palanca-Tan
Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

Water constraint is a global problem that afflicts both developing and developed countries. More than a fourth, 2.1 out of 7.5 billion people worldwide still lack safely managed drinking water. This water shortage is the result of rapid population growth and poor governance that led to failure to put up the necessary water supply infrastructure and systems to meet the growing demand for water of a rapidly increasing population. In the Philippines, 9 million out of 101 million Filipinos still suffer from unimproved, unsafe and unsustainable water sources. Inadequate and intermittent water supply afflicts not only rural areas and low-income urban cities but also even the foremost urban center, Metro Manila. Governance issues and inefficiencies of government-managed water utilities result in poor access to adequate water both in terms of quantity and quality. Relying heavily on primary data collection methods — focus group discussion, key informant interview and a comprehensive household survey, this paper looks into the water provision aspect of the Philippine government’s housing program. Despite a stated imperative for adequate water provision in government housing program, failure of the designated water utility to put up the necessary water supply infrastructure that could meet the water requirements of the resident households results in several unmonitored small-scale water suppliers of highly-priced but poor quality water. The survey of household water purchases reveal that households buying water from the alternative small-scale water suppliers (neighbors with jetmatic pump wells and water tankers) pay more than 5-times but consume just about half of the consumption of those already served by the water utility, reflecting an overly constrained consumption that has wide-ranging health and well-being implications.