Archive for the ‘ADB Projects’ Category

Cavite starts housing revolution

September 8, 2009

Cavite starts housing revolution

 By Rita Festin
Philippine Daily Inquirer

 GENERAL TRIAS, CAVITE – Being close to Metro Manila, Cavite has become a first-class province and a highly urbanized center whose high growth rate is unsurpassed in the country.

But to meet that high growth, the province has had to contend with the need to provide decent living conditions for its working population. And an ambitious mass housing project is doing just that.

Pamayanang Maliksi is the first mass housing project of the province in a 53-hectare property in General Trias that offers 6,000 low-cost housing units for Cavite’s blue collar workers.

The project is spearheaded by the provincial government in partnership with developer R-II Builders Inc. with P400 million funding from the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Development of Poor Urban Communities Sector Project (DPUCSP).

The Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, as oversight agency of the housing sector, and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), as development bank, are coexecuting the project.

The groundbreaking was held on March 14, 2008 and as of August, 1,000 housing duplex units have been constructed in the first cluster, of which 509 beneficiaries’ applications have been approved through the Pag-IBIG Fund.

Over 204 homeowners have already moved in, while 188 applications are under process. Buyers are enticed by the spacious roads that match the more affluent housing subdivisions, amenities like a clubhouse and playground for each of the five clusters, and ready drainage, water line and power connections. A public school is also being built within the site.

At least 10 percent of the provincial government’s employees make up the current crop of home buyers since the site is just 10 kilometers away from the capitol. Factory workers in ecozones make up half, a third are employees outside the ecozones, while the rest are teachers, military, self-employed and overseas workers. Most of them are in the P6,000 to P15,000 monthly income bracket, are regularly employed and Pag-IBIG members.

Riza Ferrer, 30 years old, works in a garments factory in Imus that exports children’s clothes to the United States. She moved into her unit on Aug. 29 with her husband, their 5-year-old daughter and her brother-in-law. She was paying P2,300 in the boarding house that they used to occupy and had to contend with a very strict landlady who had no compassion for delayed rental payment.

At Pamayanang Maliksi, she pays a slightly higher amount at P2,365 monthly amortization rate for 20 years. She is the first worker from her factory that has bought a unit here but her coworkers have already expressed their desire to visit and see the community for themselves, especially those who also dream to have their own home.

For Analyn Rillera, 28, she is the 10th in her Japanese-owned car spare parts factory in Dasmariñas town to have bought a housing unit here. She was paying P2,000 monthly rental in a small house with the same size as her new home. Her monthly amortization rate is P2,150 for 25 years. She lives with her husband and mother. She has been trying to conceive for three years now, so her mother hopes that in their new home, Analyn can finally produce an offspring.

Both Riza and Analyn rave about the simple application requirements and quick processing of their papers by the Provincial Housing Development and Management Office. Riza’s application only took two months, while Analyn’s took three months.

The typical duplex unit that they bought has a cash price of P300,000, payable at P2,150 monthly amortization for 25 years, with no down payment and no collateral. Each unit has a floor area of 22.55 square meters, while the lot area measures 48 sq. m.

There will also be single attached units available at P400,000 per unit, or at P2,800 monthly amortization for 25 years measuring 30-sq.-m. floor area at a 60-sq.-m lot.

ADB’s $30 million concessional loan to the DPUCSP project is coursed through the DBP as the conduit. The project provides affordable housing, serviced building sites and microcredit facilities to improve the income and quality of life of the urban poor outside Metro Manila. Other project sites are in Angeles City, Butuan, Lingayen, Pangasinan, Isabela and Tarlac.

“The Cavite site is much more impressive than any other DPUCSP project site,” said Florian Steinberg, ADB senior urban development specialist.

The project has a relending component for site development and secure tenure to qualified local government units (LGU), nongovernment organizations, private sector developers and similar project proponents. It finances the acquisition of serviced plots, construction of new housing units, improvements to existing housing and microenterprise credit facilities. It provides capacity building and project implementation support to beneficiary local communities, LGUs and other project proponents.

Provincial employees wear T-shirts with the slogan “Be part of the revolution” since Cavite has produced many heroes and the entire province is known for its many historical landmarks. Part of their modern revolution is to provide decent mass housing for an even more progressive Cavite for the future.


Water system brings joy to Christmas town

September 8, 2009

Water system brings joy to Christmas town

Naawan folk get the service they deserve

By Rita Festin
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Naawan, Misamis Oriental—This fourth class municipality just one hour out of Cagayan de Oro City was unheard of before it landed on the front pages of newspapers by being the “Christmasterpiece: Bayanihang Pasko 2005” grand winner.

Beating major cities and towns nationwide, Naawan won the Christmas landmark competition with its colorful “Arch of Friendship: Building Future with People” entry.

But behind its fertile creativity lurked a need for basic services, such as potable water.

In 2003, its water system only served 517 households. The town availed of a loan to improve sanitation and expand its level 3 potable water supply system to reach more households and consumers.

Out with the old

The improvement and expansion of the water system covered three coastal communities, the poblacion and the towns of Manticao and Lugait.

Old pipelines were replaced with new ones, and a new 220-cubic meter capacity reservoir was put up.

A 10-horsepower pump, one of two to be found at the time, was replaced with a more powerful 25-horsepower pump to boost capacity and cater to the 60-cubic-meter-per-hour requirement of a newly established copper industrial plant.

Dramatic increase

Total cost of the project was P15.8 million, of which, almost P12 million was financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through its Mindanao Basic Urban Services Sector (MBUSS) project being implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in partnership with the Nordic Development Fund and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

With the expansion, 1,391 households began to benefit from the water system, including the 300 households in neighboring municipalities.

Average monthly income also increased dramatically from P300,000 to P1 million on its initial operation. It even reached P2.7 million as of end-2008.

This 700-percent increase in five years is already half of the municipality’s entire revenue collection.

So, in Naawan, water is now “naawas,” or overflowing, not only in this town but in adjacent towns as well.

“This project benefits a lot of people in the municipality of Naawan,” according to Mayor Dennis Roa. “I am thankful to the ADB/DILG MBUSS project.

We are not only serving the people, helping the people, but we are gaining from this project as well. We have paid most of our loans and the profit is a little bit high. It’s good for our town and municipal coffers.”

The ADB’s MBUSS project helps improve living conditions of urban residents in Mindanao by giving them access to basic urban infrastructure and essential municipal services, based on their demand and needs.

It covers the construction and rehabilitation of public markets, gymnasiums, transport terminals, cultural centers, water supply and municipal buildings to benefit 11 provinces, covering about 40 local government units.

It also trains LGUs so they can better manage and sustain the infrastructure projects.

Apart from Naawan, other cities and towns in Mindanao have benefited from MBUSS subprojects.

Juices flowing

New public markets have sprouted in Ozamiz City; R. T. Lim Zamboanga Sibugay; Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur; Alicia in Zamboanga Sibugay; Datu Odin Sinsuat and Buluan towns in Maguindanao; and Mati, Davao Oriental.

Gymnasiums were built in San Isidro, Surigao del Norte; Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte; and Pilar, Surigao del Norte.

Transport terminals were also established in Panabo City; Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; and in Kidapawan City.

Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte has a new auditorium, while an exhibition center in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte was built.

Other water supply systems were built in Impasugong, Bukidnon; Alamada, North Cotabato; and Tago, Surigao del Sur.

President Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated some of the subprojects like the Kapatagan municipal hall in Lanao del Norte in 2006 and the Ozamiz City Public Mall in 2009.

With water more abundant, Naawanons promise to keep their creative juices flowing.

It’s a go for ‘green’ lights in CDO

September 8, 2009

It’s a go for ‘green’ lights in CDO

 By Rita Festin
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – This very progressive city located in Northern Mindanao will soon “go green” as 100,000 compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) will be distributed for free to residential customers soon as part of the government’s energy efficiency program.

With annual growth in energy consumption consistently among the highest in the country, Cagayan de Oro City needs to meet its rising energy requirements.

Thus, a Department of Energy (DoE) project that will help reduce the peak demand and energy consumption by simply replacing incandescent bulbs with more efficient CFLs will be a welcome solution to the lack of power plants in the area.

Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco), the fourth largest privately owned electric distribution company in the country serving the city of Cagayan de Oro, the municipalities of Tagoloan, Villanueva, Jasaan and the Phivedec Industrial Estate is participating in this bulb swap project.

Cepalco’s residential customers can visit any of its sub-offices located in Carmen, Puntod and Puerto with their latest official receipt, identification card and two functioning incandescent bulbs of any wattage, which would be replaced by Cepalco with a 15-Watt CFL.

The CFLs provided by DOE for the project are estimated to last for about 10,000 hours. This significant disparity in life span between CFLs and incandescent bulbs will result to a reduction in energy consumption and electric bills.

Ralph Paguio, Cepalco vice president, said electric distribution utilities would also benefit from this demand side management (DSM) project since it would result to a reduction in demand during peak hours thus freeing the utility’s distribution facilities for more productive use and delaying the upgrading of its facilities or purchases of new equipment.

Likewise, this will result in the reduction of customer’s electric bills due to the reduced wattage of the CFL without reducing the quality of the light that it emits.

“It’s a worthwhile project which Cepalco wholeheartedly supports,” Paguio said.

Other utility firms that will be distributing CFLs in their respective franchise areas are Manila Electric Company (Metro Manila), Visayan Electric Company (Cebu City), Davao Light and Power Company (Davao City) and about 120 electric cooperatives nationwide.

The bulbs to be surrendered should be in good working condition so that the reduction in wattage will qualify for carbon credits he stressed, and this is part of the project innovation. Later on, the recovered incandescent bulbs will be crushed and disposed of properly.

The project was made possible through a $31-million concessional loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), of which $18 million would be set aside for this National Residential Lighting Program where 13 million CFLs would be procured.

The 450 megawatts that will be taken off the load is approximately three percent of the Philippines’ total generation capacity, and will defer investments of some $450 million in new power plants. It will also save about $100 million annually in fuel cost, and avoid 300,000 tons of CO2 emission annually from reduced power generation, which is about $3 million per year.

ADB is the lead financing agency in the Philippine power sector, with a third of its total over $10 billion country lending in generation, transmission, distribution and sector development support. ADB also actively supports the government’s power sector restructuring and privatization program of power plants to encourage competition that helps lower electricity costs.

The focus of ADB’s future power sector operations will be on promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and improving the distribution systems in the rural areas.

Milking profit from carabaos

September 8, 2009

Milking profit from carabaos

By Rita Festin
Philippine Daily Inquirer

TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija – This town in Nueva Ecija is known for its fresh carabao’s milk and low-fat pastillas de leche. And to the health-conscious, these are welcome alternatives.

Joyce Ramones of the provincial agrarian reform office regularly drinks carabao milk herself and shows off her svelte figure and youthful looks that belie her age of 46.

“I am living proof of this,” she told visitors. “I not only stay fit and slim, I also have no hypertension because of low levels of cholesterol from carabao milk.”

At the center of the dairy activity here is the Nueva Ecija Federation of Dairy Carabao Cooperative (Nefedcco), which produces the most carabao milk in the province from among its 27 farmer-cooperatives and five associate member-cooperatives.

It started with only nine member-cooperatives in 2002. Back then, the need to form an umbrella federation became apparent since milk is highly perishable, and the cooperatives needed to compete as a group for better pricing and quality control.

Today, the federation procures 1,000 to 1,200 liters of milk daily, just enough for their small-scale operations. It is far short though of the 5,000 liters/day requirement of a major ice cream maker that approached the group with an exclusive supply contract.

Out of its daily procured volume, most of it, or 650 liters, is sold as raw milk, and the rest is processed into pasteurized milk, chocolate milk, lacto juice, pastillas plain and yema, white cheeses and pastillas de leche. Orders for ice cream and cheese pimiento are also accepted.

Nefedcco collects the raw carabao’s milk produced by its members and processes and markets the product to major food and pasalubong outlets in Bulacan, Angeles City, Olongapo City, Cabanatuan City, Baguio City and Metro Manila.

From its ragtag operations using plastic pails and containers, Nefedcco has metamorphosed into a modern, more sanitary and professionally run enterprise that uses stainless steel milk containers for collection and storage.

Almost 700 Novo Ecijano farmers with over 800 animals supply it with milk, and the activity has increased their farming income by at least four-fold.

Andy Vallarte, 64, is the federation’s vice chairman and has two carabaos that he milks every day, 10 to 11 months in a year. Out of the 10 to 11 liters a day that he collects, he earns a net of P29 per liter or up to P80,000 a month. He can only earn P40,000 maximum per hectare from palay twice a year, and only break even during a typhoon.

“Walang lugi sa gatas. Kahit may bagyo, tuloy ang paggagatas [I don’t have any losses in dairy farming. Even if there is a typhoon, I can still milk my carabao]” he said.

He no longer incurs debt at high interest rates just to get by, unlike before when his only source of income was farming. Today, if he needs to borrow money for an emergency, he knows that he will be able to pay it back right away with his income from carabao milk.

Various government agencies, both at the provincial and national levels, have been supporting Nefedcco. About half a million pesos worth of milking equipment and capability training (i.e., milk collection, milk quality control and beef management) were provided under the Asian Development Bank’s Agrarian Reform Communities Project (ADB ARCP) implemented by the Department of Agrarian Reform.

Under ADB ARCP, nearly 30,000 rural households, or 140 agrarian reform communities (ARCs) in almost 1,000 poverty-stricken communities nationwide came to benefit. Of a total project cost of $168.9 million, ADB provided $93.2 million loan in 1998.

To qualify for ARCP, farmers must be organized into ARCs. Most already own land but lack basic infrastructure and support services to maximize earnings. The project provides them with roads, bridges, communal irrigation, drinking water supply or other infrastructure.

For Nefedcco, the ADB ARCP provided equipment and six farm-to-market road networks in Talavera that improved farmers’ access to markets and reduced transportation and hauling costs. The concrete road leading to the coop’s milk collection and processing/marketing center in Barangay San Ricardo in Unlad Buhay ARC is, in fact, provided by ADB ARCP and is conveniently just 6 kilometers away from the town proper.

With the success of ARCP, which was completed in 2007, the ADB approved a second phase late last year. It is a follow-on ARCP project focusing on the Southern Philippines where three quarters of the rural poor live. ARCP II would assist 152 ARCs, covering 731 barangay (village) units in 137 municipalities of 18 provinces in six regions. Beneficiaries are expected to increase to about 215,000 rural community members with the inclusion of three provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Nueva Ecija has been long known as the “Rice Bowl of the Philippines,” being the country’s largest rice producer. With its increasing production of carabao milk, it may soon be also known as “Dairy Capital of the Philippines.”

And with milk and dairy products eating up a fourth of the Philippines’ total agricultural imports, the potential of carabao milk farming can indeed be very lucrative and promising.

Eastern Samar banks on roads to leave it out of Club 20

December 26, 2008
The Maydolong farm to market road being constructed under INFRES

The Maydolong farm-to-market road being constructed under INFRES

(Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer issue of 1 December 2008)


Borongan, Eastern Samar – Eastern Samar used to be widely known as a province with one of the highest poverty rates in the country.  But Ben Evardone, its two-term governor, has led the province out of the so-called Club of 20 poorest provinces.  From being the 19th poorest province in 2000 from the bottom with a 45.9% poverty incidence estimate in the National Statistical Coordination Board’s Ranking, it improved to 36th place out of 79 provinces in 2003, registering 33.9% or an 11% improvement during that three-year period.    


He shares the credit with his predecessors whose development projects he continued with renewed vigor.  He also focused on education and social services, building infrastructure and creating livelihood, and is pushing for a slice of the booming tourism industry.   He successfully persuaded major airlines to fly to his province, despite its being located along the eastern seaboard, right smack into typhoons coming from the Pacific Ocean.  Waves are strong enough even in a non-typhoon season, that it has become a popular destination among surfers, specifically in Calicoan island in Guiuan town.  It is also in that town, in Homonhon island, where Ferdinand Magellan, credited for having discovered the Philippines, first set foot on March 16, 1521. 


The national government has earmarked P1 billion for roads and infrastructure in the next two years for this province, once notorious for the poor conditions of its highways.   The construction of new farm-to-market roads in the hinterlands have dramatically increased farmers’ income by at least 30 percent with their newfound access to markets, and the governor is grateful to multilateral agencies like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the assistance.


Eastern Samar is the recipient of 2 ADB loans.  Under the Agrarian Reform Communities Project, P127 million worth of farm-to-market roads were constructed or rehabilitated in Borongan, Llorente, San Julian, Maydolong, Hernani, General MacArthur, and Quinapondan.  Under the project, up to P30 million was made available to each municipality to build roads, bridges, communal irrigation, drinking water supply and other basic infrastructure.  The beneficiaries were poor landless farmers and small-scale cultivators who were part of agrarian reform communities. In addition, the ARCP provided land survey, agribusiness and community development assistance, and promoted comprehensive bottom-up community participation. For the rural infrastructure and other sub-projects, the local government unit also contributed counterpart funding as its share.  The Department of Agrarian Reform was the Executing Agency of the recently completed project.  Its successful rating from ADB has led to the approval of an ARCP phase 2, targeting 150,000 poor farmers mostly in the southern Philippines.


Ongoing in the province is another ADB loan called the Infrastructure for Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector project (InfRES) with the Department of Agriculture as the executing agency.  Some P309.9 million worth of farm to market roads and bridges are being constructed or rehabilitated in Arteche, Balangkayan, Can-Avid, Dolores, Hernani, Maslog, Maydolong, and Sulat. 


InfRES benefits local government units in Southern Tagalog (Region IV-B), Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Mindanao where over 70 percent of poor Filipinos live.  Instead of the national government imposing the project on them, LGUs are empowered to identify and develop projects based on their own design and implementation process.  Half of the project cost is funded by the ADB loan while the national and local governments and beneficiaries shoulder the other half, in cash or in kind. 


The project has the long-term developmental goal of increasing rural income favoring poor areas with high agricultural potential by providing roads, communal irrigation systems, and drinking water on the premise that a major cause of poverty is largely due to inadequate rural infrastructure.  With irrigation improvements alone, annual income from crop production can increase by at least 80 percent.  Some 700,000 people from farm and non-farm households are the beneficiaries.


“InfRES will revolutionalize the rural areas,” says Governor Evardone.  “Before, just to go to one barangay, you need to pass 2 municipalities.  Now, no more since 15 farflung barangays will now be connected,” he added.  It will increase trade and industry and entrepreneurship among the affected communities and shorten travel time and reduce transportation costs.


InfRES is particularly appealing to LGUs since they only finance part of the project cost as their counterpart.   Maydolong Mayor Daniel Baldono has already his own 14-kilometer FMR under construction.  With only P6 million available for development projects in his municipality, he is seeking another InfRES subproject, a potable water supply. “How can I have projects with only that amount if I will not seek additional sources from outside?” he said.


In Dolores town, the FMR is much-delayed due to a change in contractors, bad weather, and heavy rains but the lady mayor is determined to finish it because of its impact on her town.  “We have very very rich ricelands and that will be the key to the development of Eastern Samar.  We have over 5,300 irrigable lands; we have the biggest irrigation project in region 8,” says Dolores Mayor Emiliana Villacarillo.


Spanning 28.5 kilometers, the P100 million road is a combination of newly-opened and rehabilitated components that will traverse 13 barangays, benefiting two-thirds of the town’s 46,000 population.   Each barangay has been trained to maintain the portion of the road in their area to ensure the sustainability of the infrastructure.


“The InfRES project in Dolores will connect from the main highway to the rice granary of Eastern Samar because they are second to Quinapondan in producing the rice production in the province.  So the InfRES project in Dolores is very critical,” says Governor Evardone.

Arnold, third from right, with Governor Evardone (second from left) and visiting ADB directors., Arnold Jocosol (3rd from right) with Governor Evardone (2nd from left) who is flanked by 2 members of the ADB Board of Directors.




Arnold Jocosol, 38, a farmer in Dolores, related that he can only transport his goods on a carabao and there was no road to speak of.  Today, a road is being constructed right in front of his home and he knows it will be a big help to his family.  “I did not even dream there would be a road here,” he told a visiting group of ADB Board members in the local dialect.  But after the road, he says he hopes he would also have capital for other activities that he would like to pursue like a piggery and a mini-store.


“In most of the barangays that did not have roads before, they can transport their products now from their barangay to the market,” says Mayor Javier Zacate of Sulat who just had a ground-breaking of his own 17-kilometer FMR under InfRES.


But even if InfRES is still being implemented, LGUs who were not able to avail of the project are already submitting their own project proposals for InfRES phase 2. And in Eastern Samar, mayors who were not able to avail of the project are ribbing their fellow mayors who already have InfRES projects to give way so that they too can benefit from the project, while the Governor amusedly looks on. 


In the last NSCB Poverty Statistics ranking in 2006, Eastern Samar teetered close to entering the Club of 20 poorest provinces again, ranking 23rd in poverty incidence, as the number of families under the poverty line fell to 42.7% from 33.9 percent in 2003.  The Governor knows only too well that he and his fellow Estehanons still have a lot of work to do in the poverty reduction front to sustain their gains and not fall behind again.

In Ligao City, too much water means more income

December 26, 2008

Water pressure is so strong that two 3-way public faucets are open 24/7, overflowing with water.

Water pressure is so strong that two 3-way public faucets are open 24/7, overflowing with water.

(Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer issue of 27 July 2008)

Ligao City, Albay – Barangay Paulba in this city has the enviable problem of having too much water bursting out of its faucets.  The pressure of its new P6 million rural water system is so strong that they have two three-way public faucets open 24/7, just overflowing with water.  Residents don’t mind letting the water go to waste so long as they are able to ease the pressure on their pipes or they would burst otherwise. 

Barangay Paulba shares the potable water system with Barangay Allang, from where Capongolan Spring serves as their source for both barangays’ potable water system funded by the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) $75 million Infrastructure for Rural Productivity Enhancement Sector or INFRES project.  It benefits 700 poor households and is being managed by the Barangay Water System Association. 


INFRES benefits local government units in Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Mindanao where over 70 percent of all poor Filipinos live.  Instead of the national government imposing the project on them, LGUs are empowered to identify and develop projects based on their own design and implementation process.  Half of the project funds are provided by ADB while the national and local governments shoulder the other half, in cash or in kind. 


The project has the long-term developmental goal of increasing rural income favoring poor areas with high agricultural potential by providing roads, communal irrigation systems, and drinking water on the premise that a major cause of poverty is largely due to inadequate rural infrastructure.  With irrigation improvements alone, annual income from crop production can increase by at least 80 percent.  Some 700,000 people from farm and non-farm households are the beneficiaries.


Typhoon-prone Ligao City is classified as a fourth class city and 80 percent of its economy is agriculture-based.  There was an urgent need to increase agricultural productivity to get it back to its feet after the destruction caused by typhoons Milenyo and Reming in late 2006.   Previously, barangay Allang did not have a water supply system even if it had its own Capongolan Spring as water source.  In Paulba, only half of the community had water connection.   Now, with the project fully in place, there is so much water that they have to let it gush out of their public faucets 24/7 because of the strong pressure, which means it can easily be diverted to benefit 2 or 3 more barangays.


Ligao City has a total INFRES project cost amounting to P187 million, consisting of 56 kilometers of newly-opened and rehabilitated farm-to-market roads in upland and farflung areas, a P48 million irrigation system running up to almost 35 kilometers for 1,145 hectares of farm land, and the P6 million rural water supply system.  The two irrigation subprojects are two-thirds complete while the five farm-to-market roads are over 30% complete.  The city is way ahead of its peers, considering that most INFRES projects in the other coverage areas are still in the bidding or pre-implementation stages. 


The success of INFRES in Ligao City is attributed to the passion and hands-on management style of its lady chief executive, Mayor Linda P. Gonzales, once just a supportive First Lady to her husband, Fernando, when he was Albay Governor from 2002 to 2007.  So when her husband was no longer in power, it was her turn to step into the political arena. 


“When I saw the program, right away I told my planning officer hindi puedeng hindi natin ito pasukan (we can’t not enter this project),” Mayor Gonzales said.  “Ang masarap na nangyari sa INFRES is the empowerment, from the executive, hanggang lahat ng mga staff ko, hanggang sa mga barangay officials because sige ang consultation namin sa kanila.  (The nice thing about INFRES is the empowerment it provides, to the executive, to my staff, to the barangay officials because consultations are there and continuing),” the Mayora said.  She herself led participants who attended the capacity building workshops and trainings. 


And because the city fulfilled all the requirements and submitted the necessary documentation, it immediately got the go-signal and funding for not just one but all three subprojects, the most number in any single INFRES area and in record time.  


“All the barangay captains involved in the INFRES projects that we have, lahat sila ay napakacooperative at (all of them are so cooperative and) enthusiastic not only to have the project but to learn how to become empowered. So it’s a very wholistic program.”    She also acknowledges “the combined efforts” of her city council and the “team effort”  of her staff for the project’s success, which is embedded in the project’s billboard where the battlecry “good things happen here” is also written. 


“Iyong nasasayang na tubig, puedeng gamitin sa drip irrigation, horticulture, organic farming, etc.  Hindi natin nakita sa papel iyon kung sa dokumento lang natin titingnan.  (The water coming out of the public faucet can be used for drip irrigation, horticulture, organic farming, etc. We would not have been able to see that, if we just looked at the project documents.),” says Dennis Arraullo, Asst. Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), which is the executing agency of the project.  


“We are glad in the ADB that we were able to respond to the community’s needs and that it has made an impact on their daily lives.  Buut more than that, we would also like to know how it can also benefit others,” says Executive Director Marita Magpili-Jimenez who represents the Philippines, among other countries, in the ADB Board of Directors.  She encouraged the barangay and the water association to share their water resource to nearby communities for additional income. “We need the beneficiaries to be taking the opportunity to better themselves,” she added.


“Tiwala ako na ang inyong water system ay pangangalagaan ninyo at iyong lahat ng pinag-usapan natin, kung paano maging progressive ang Paulba, sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaroon ng inyong water system, lalung-lalo na mag-gegenerate kayo ng income dito, ay tuloy-tuloy na iyan (I am confident that you will take care of your water system and all those things that we discussed about how to make barangay Paulba progressive by generating income through this water system, will be achieved and sustained).” Mayor Gonzales said.  She also cited the good teamwork of Paulba’s barangay council, led by chairwoman Shirley Buban, who shares the same passion and hands-on approach to the project as her Mayora.


In the Board, we read a lot of papers, policies, and we approve projects but we don’t have a good sense of  how these projects are being implemented on the ground.  And I am really glad we came and saw how this ADB project is implemented.  We are very happy to see there is strong community ownership and participation,” says Aw Siew-Juan, ADB Alternative Executive Director.  


 “It is definitely a success story so far as the achievement of objectives is concerned,”  M. Jamilur Rahman, ADB Principal Project Management Specialist says. “However, I am concerned to see that the water pressure exceeds the system design limit and all faucets are kept open all the time to avoid damage to the pipes. Some damages will still take place over time even if all faucets are open. Apart from the wastage, excess water will cause drainage problems in the locality increasing the breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The problem could have been avoided with some simple adjustments at the intake point, and the engineers should attend to it before it is too late.” 


Director Jose Dayao of the DA Region 5 said the development of infrastructure will encourage farmers to plant and would reduce their transportation costs.  “Ito ay pinaghirapan, unang-una ng local government.  Of course, nagawa ito dahil din sa barangay. Dahil kung wala ang kooperasyon ng barangay, hindi tayo makakapag-implement (This was achieved through the hard work of the local government. Of course, this was also achieved with the barangay.  If there was no cooperation from the barangay, we would not have been able to implement the project),” he said.  


The devastation wrought on her city by recent major typhoons is still fresh in the Lady Mayor’s memory.  Yet, she remains undaunted even with the onset of another rainy season as she focuses on the present, what Ligao City has become, and what else she can do to improve and make it more productive. 


“INFRES is a commendable program-design indeed, worthy of replication for other fields of development, although enhancing the program with intense relevant components to make it more comprehensive is most welcome. The composition of our LGU’s Special Project Monitoring Board considers it a privilege to have been an INFRES implementor. The overwhelming benefits to be derived directly for our identified marginalized farmers as well as those for the indirect stakeholders, plus the impact to be gained upon the city’s development,in general,shall be of great significance to Ligao’s progress,” Mayor Gonzales added.

Mayor Gonzales (standing) with barangay and ADB officials.

Mayor Gonzales (standing) with barangay and ADB officials.




With ADB Support, Reliable and Cheaper Power is Within Reach in the Philippines

December 26, 2008

An ADB-funded transmission line in Tarlac.

An ADB-funded transmission line in Tarlac.

by Xinning Jia and Rita Festin, ADB Philippine Country Office



 (Published in Manila Bulletin issue of 20 July 2008) 

The Philippines has among the highest electricity rates in Asia, in the company of highly urbanized cities like Japan and Hong Kong. Part of it is due to the country being an archipelago of at least 7,107 islands at high tide, where transmission lines would have to cross bodies of water to be inter-connected to a grid. Another reason would be its high dependence on imported oil, making it vulnerable to price fluctuations and supply problems.   

ADB’s Extensive Role in the Philippine Energy Sector

ADB, being the lead financing agency in the Philippine power sector, has provided to the sector nearly a third of its total cumulative lending to the country of over US$9 billion spanning 37 years.

 ADB’s involvement in the power sector has been extensive, to say the least, ranging from generation, transmission, distribution, and sector development support.   

 Snapshot of ADB Support in Power Sector Development

 The fate of the power sector has been dependent on policy changes of the government.  There was a gap between the Marcos administration and the Aquino administration in the late 1980s with the abolition of the Ministry of Energy, which put the country’s energy program in limbo despite increasing annual demand. With the shortfall, and no new investments in place, the country eventually suffered a crippling power crisis in the early 1990s that forced the Ramos administration to enter into power supply contracts with independent power producers (IPPs) through power purchase agreements (PPAs) in a record two years’ time. These PPAs contained minimum offtake provisions, fuel cost pass-through and foreign exchange adjustments in favor of the IPPs. Hence, when the Asian financial crisis of 1997 occurred, and the projected demand for power did not materialize, the oversupply of electricity in the country resulted in the rise in electricity rates. The situation was further aggravated by the sharp depreciation of the Philippine peso. National Power Corporation (NPC) obligations, which were guaranteed by the government, therefore ballooned and seriously affected its financial health such that it posted a record net loss of P13 billion in 2000.

 In 1998, ADB approved a US$300-million power sector restructuring program loan that prepared the NPC for privatization, separating ownership of generation from transmission, and making it more competitive and more efficient to reduce power costs. The loan was to finance some of the adjustment costs of the restructuring, including its huge debt burden, the incorporation of long-term take-or-pay contracts with IPPs into the competitive framework, and employees’ separation pay. This was later complemented by a US$500-million partial credit guarantee in 2002.    

 By 2001, the current administration decided to embark on market-oriented reforms through the Energy Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA Law, in what was to be the centerpiece of the restructuring of the power industry. It signaled a radical change in the Philippine power sector by reducing public debt, improving the sector’s efficiency, and promoting competition to bring down the cost of electricity. The key features of the EPIRA law were the unbundling of the industry into generation, transmission, distribution and supply sectors. 

 This resulted in the transfer of the generation and transmission assets of NPC to the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and the creation of a wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) which would spur competition in the retail supply of electricity. The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was also created to regulate the industry.  

 In 2001, ADB provided a US$990,000 technical assistance grant that enabled the ERC to enforce a performance-based rate-making methodology of the Transmission Sector, which replaced the traditional rate-of-return, based pricing methodology.

 In 2002, ADB provided a US$40 million investment loan to establish WESM, one of the first in developing member countries (DMCs). 

 EPIRA law relegated the role of NPC to being the operator of the Small Power Utilities Group and other non-privatized assets, responsible for providing power generation and its associated power delivery systems in areas that are not connected to the transmission system.  PSALM, principally as liquidator, takes possession of all existing NPC generation assets, liabilities, IPP contracts, real estate and other disposable assets. PSALM takes the responsibility of repaying all existing NPC debts. The transmission and sub-transmission assets of NPC would be transferred to the National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO), which is wholly owned by PSALM.  ADB’s consent, as well as other NPC creditors, was obtained for this major change. 

From 2001 to 2005, however, privatization attempts were delayed. First, there were the 2 failed biddings to operate TRANSCO’s transmission assets, mainly due to the unpalatable investment climate and complexities from the congressional and judicial branches of government. The target to sell 70% of NPC’s eligible capacity in Luzon and Visayas by June 2004 also fell short. The government’s first successful attempt at privatization occurred only in March 2004 with the sale of the 3.5 megawatt Taolomo hydroelectric plant near Davao City.

In December 2006, ADB provided a US$450 million policy-based loan for the Power Sector Development Program (PSDP) to consolidate the reform process and accelerate the privatization program. In particular, PDSP aims to restore the financial viability of the power sector, by helping the government absorb the NPC’s long-term liabilities, averting a major fiscal crises and improving the country’s fiscal imbalance and investment climate. The PDSP assists the government’s privatization of generation systems, introduces a competitive electricity market, and reduces unsustainable government subsidies to the power sector. The Program loan came in at a critical time as the country would have faced power outages had the reforms not been undertaken.

Lessons Learned

There are a number of factors that have affected the ongoing privatization program. First, since the adoption of EPIRA law and the start of the privatization program in the Philippines, many traditional US and European investors in the power sector encountered serious financial difficulties, some of them filing bankruptcy while others scaled down their investments particularly in the developing countries. The commercial lenders that suffered losses from their earlier investments in the 1990s also cut their exposure in the power sector. On top of these external factors, there are also perceptions of high country and regulatory risks associated with the political events and judicial interventions in the Philippines. Specifically, for the privatization of NPC’s generation assets, there are some inherent flaws in the EPIRA law that contributed to the slow pace of privatization. In those countries that have successfully implemented the privatization of publicly-owned generation assets, bilateral supply contracts were generally attached to the generating assets for privatization since this would offer a viable market for investors and a bankable project for lenders. Without such contracts, investors are unable to mobilize long-term financing from commercial banks.

ADB’s New Assistance to Power Sector

In December 2007, ADB’s Japan Special Fund provided a US$550,000 grant to prepare the Rural Electric Cooperatives Development Project to help the country achieve a 100% rural electrification coverage by 2009. At the end of 2008, about 97% of the nearly 42,000 villages in the Philippines had access to electricity.

In January 2008, ADB provided a US$200 million private sector loan to the winning bidder in the privatized 600-megawatt Masinloc coal-fired power plant, the largest power plant privatized by the government so far. This will result in the rehabilitation and expansion of the privatized plant’s present capacity that will encourage more competition and thereby bring down power rates. It will also ease the debt burden of the NPC. 

The Way Ahead:  Challenges and Opportunities

“It’s a long process and the design of policy reforms should recognize the need for a steady approach with a phased and realistic implementation schedule,” says Yongping Zhai, ADB principal energy specialist. A reliable supply of secure, affordable electricity is particularly important to promote sustainable growth in the country.

The Philippine Energy Summit in early 2008 discussed options with all stakeholders on how to mitigate the impact of high-energy prices on the general public. The Summit noted that while the introduction of competition through open access[1] can reduce electricity tariffs in the short term, a more effective solution would be through a combination of increased use of indigenous renewable energy generation (such as geothermal, biomass, wind and hydropower) and the promotion of energy efficiency. The government plans to develop a range of legislative measures that will reduce import dependence by promoting increased use of indigenous energy resources, accelerating competition in the energy sector, building awareness and incentives for energy efficiency at all levels, and exploring alternative fuel options for the transport sector.

To support the government’s initiative, ADB is considering provide assistance in developing a financing scheme that will support these energy efficiency and conservation programs. It aims to (i) identify and finance projects that can easily be replicated in the other parts of the country, (ii) encourage market-based financing mechanisms, and (iii) support projects that could claim carbon credits.

As generation and transmission will be operated by the private sector when the restructuring is complete, ADB will consider providing support to strengthen the distribution sector in the rural areas to support the government’s rural electrification program.

As the privatization gets underway, and more and more power plants are rehabilitated and capacities are expanded or at least doubled by their new owners, ADB sees power rates in the country finally coming down to more reasonable levels and make supply more reliable.

 ADB is committed to seeing the whole process through.








[1]   Open Access means that the utility’s wires are “open” and can be used by a customer to receive electricity from an alternative source.  Open Access gives a customer the choice to shop around for a “cheaper” source of electricity and “bypass” the incumbent utility’s average cost of generation, switch directly to the cheaper alternative, and pay the incumbent only for regulated transmission and distribution charges.

Mighty River Powers Up Remote Negros Village

December 23, 2008

The mighty Dalinson River

The mighty Dalinson River






(Published in Philippine Daily Inquirer issue of 22 June 2008)


Toboso, Negros Occidental – “Isn’t this the worst road that you have ever traveled on?”, Mayor Evelio Valencia told officials of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japanese embassy when they arrived in far-flung Sitio Vergara in Bug-ang, his town’s most neglected barangay because of its inaccessibility.


The isolation of the barangay is understandable.  No well-meaning vehicle owner would want to subject his vehicle to the kind roads that Toboso is known for, made worse by the regular afternoon downpours.  Its rocky terrain and clay-like soil will either pierce or sink tires easily.   Six-inch grass grows in the middle of the road for pedestrians to step on to avoid mud and puddles.  It takes half a day for farmers to bring down on foot one or two sacks of their produce all the way to the barangay-proper six kilometers down, while renting a carabao would cost P300.  More often than not, farmers would just leave behind their produce to rot at home if they are not sold.  Hence, residents are cut off from economic activity and remain poor.


Next to rehabilitated roads, residents yearn for electricity to improve their lives.  The local electric utility Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) could not connect them to the grid  due to the high cost and lack of economic activity.  Thus, when ADB, through its Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, came in and proposed a micro hydro power plant for sitios Vergara and Magtuod, it was a dream come true.  But the dream took a long time to materialize.


The project was not readily accepted by residents, most of whom could not believe that a multi-million project would be set up in their remote barangay, without any strings attached, nor was it a loan requiring any pay-back.  One version even says the project was a smokescreen for a treasure hunting expedition in Dalinson River.


Giovanni Templado, chairman, Barangay Bug-ang, led the non-believers.  “Hindi ako naniniwala kasi maraming palpak na coop e.  Ngayon, totoo na.  Magpasalamat ako.  (At first, I did not believe in it because there are so many failed cooperatives.  Now, I can see that it is for real. And I am so grateful.)”


It took Winrock International, the project’s implementing agency, a couple of years and many meetings and dialogue until some residents finally embraced the project, that they would be provided electricity and livelihood as well.  They also had to be trained to form and manage their own cooperative to run the project under the name Vergara Magtuod Development Cooperative or VEMADECO which now has over 100 members consisting of farmers and hacienda workers.  Thus, when the power plant was finally commissioned on 30 May, it was a cause for celebration comparable to a feast, with fireworks in the middle of the day, loud dance music blaring from a karaoke machine, and a roasted pork especially fattened and seasoned with lemongrass served as the main course.  Residents dedicated and sang a song to the tune of “Mamang Sorbetero” in gratitude.  Overwhelmed by the outpouring, the Japanese official belted out the theme song from the popular Japanese cartoon series “Voltes Five” to the crowd’s glee.


The project, dubbed “RENEW Negros”, is an innovative poverty reduction project to pilot renewable energy and livelihood development in poor off-grid rural communities.  There will be 11 renewably energy systems built, consisting of micro hydro power plants, solar/biomass hybrid systems, and hydraulic ram pump systems.  The three micro hydro power plants will have an aggregate output of 85 kw that will run rice and corn mills and energize 500 homes.


Besides the micro hydro power plant in Toboso, another 32kw micro-hydro power plant, with a project cost of P7.6 million, was commissioned in Sitio Balea, Barangay Laga-an, Municipality of Calatrava.  In August, the 21kw micro hydro power plant in Barangay Baclao will likewise be commissioned.  The two solar/biomass hybrid systems in Molocaboc and Sipaway islands will have a drying capacity of 100 kilos of marine products per day, creating a ready market for the fish catch for the fishermen in the two communities.  The hydraulic ram pumps will benefit 360 families in six sitios who will have a daily water supply of almost 500,000 liters for household and school use and to irrigate farms.


An important component of the project besides the renewable energy project is the provision for livelihood activities, under a microcredit fund known as “RENEW Fund” to be managed by the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation.  It will provide residents up to P5,000 loan for electricity connection and livelihood development to purchase fertilizer, carabao, etc at very low interest rates and a flexible repayment schedule.


Governor Isidro Zayco has been pushing for the building of hydroelectric plants.  There is an energy shortage in this province, resulting in rotating power outages which have already damaged household appliances and electrical equipment.  Since the province is endowed with seven large rivers and abundant rains even during summer, it has a huge potential for hydroelectric power.  There is so much rain that it is easy to plant “tubo” which produces sugar, hence the town’s name “Toboso”.


In Toboso town, they used to rely on the use of kerosene, batteries, candles, and traditional biomass fuel for their electricity.  Now, with the commissioning of the P7.4 million 32kw micro-hydro power plant, tapping the Dalinson River, households can use CFC light bulbs at night so that students can study and housewives can perform chores without inhaling toxic fumes from kerosene lamps.    The grain mill operation will boost the production of rice and corn in the area, reduce the cost of processing/milling in nearby communities, and ensure better market and price for their produce.  All these at only a cost of P5.50 per kw, which is cheaper than the cost of buying kerosene which is P44/liter, or almost P200/month savings per average household.  With the improved disposable income, and the availability of group funds, some members can now engage in backyard livestock raising


At the inauguration rites, Yongping Zhai, ADB Principal Energy Specialist acknowledged the people behind the project, from the Japanese government who funded it, the Department of Energy who is the executing agency, and Winrock International who implemented it.  “But even with the equipment, with all the expertise we have, we cannot do it without you.  Thanks to you, we have been able to achieve it,” he told VEMADECO members and residents who had gathered for the commissioning ceremony.


“What makes this project even more remarkable than just another energy project is that it is environment-friendly to nature,” Kohei Noda, financial attaché of the Japanese embassy noted.


“Kung wala sila, hindi kami aangat at wala kaming tsansang aangat kung hindi sila dumating dito.  Kung aasa lang kami sa gobyerno, matagal, aabutin siguro kami ng 50 years.  Mga two years lang ito, nagkaroon na kami nito.  (If it were not for your help, we will not be able to improve our lives and we would not have had a chance to improve our lives if they had not reached us here.  If we rely on the government, it would take long, maybe 50 years.  This project only took 2 years before it materialized,” says Rico Rivera, VEMADECO cooperative president. He has resigned from his job as hacienda worker to work full-time at the coop.


Residents in Sitio Vergara can now end their isolation with their river-powered electricity in place.  “While the electricity will not totally solve the community’s isolation due to the existing bad roads, the presence of electricity will boost agricultural production and economic activities that will eventually get the attention of local leaders and business interest resulting to more development interventions in the area,” says Jim Orprecio, of Winrock International.


He also noted other benefits that the project will bring.  “Students can study better, indoor pollution will be reduced, productive use of renewable energy for agri-based livelihood projects will be promoted, the environment will be protected to ensure sustainable operation of the micro-hydro power plant, agricultural productivity and income will increase, and food security the overall quality of life will be improved,” he added.




Mayor Valencia (left), with Japanese and ADB officials at the inauguration of the microhydro power plant.

Mayor Valencia (left), with Japanese, ADB and local government officials at the inauguration of the microhydro power plant.

Sun-Powered Electricity Lights up remote Philippine village

September 14, 2007

Solar battery charging stations provide renewable energy in a remote Palawan village.

Solar battery provides renewable energy in a remote Palawan village.


(published in 22 July issue of Philippine Star and 8 July 2007 issue of Manila Bulletin) 

FOR TWO hours every night, a 10-watt light bulb makes it possible for 12-year old Ian Grace to do her homework and keep her place among the top 10 students of her class.

Ian’s household is one among many in Bunog village, in the Philippines, that benefits from a solar-powered battery system financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with resources provided by the Danish Cooperation Fund for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Rural Areas.

The Philippines’ Department of Energy is implementing the project, which rehabilitates old renewable energy systems in remote areas. In Bunog, a non-operating solar battery system installed years earlier has been rehabilitated. The village is 30 kilometers away from the nearest electric pole, and since it has a low power demand, connecting it to the grid is not economically viable.

“The solar energy helps us a lot,” said Ian Grace’s mother Stella. “Our children are able to study their lessons and we are able to do our household chores, even at night.”

“Without the electricity, the children were only using candles for light in the evening,” said Evelyn Kamias, officer-in-charge of the nearby elementary school. “The children often don’t do their homework because they find it too difficult to study under a dim-lit candle or kerosene wick lamp.”

The solar-powered white light is brighter than the yellowish light from kerosene lamps it replaced. A kerosene lamp consumes an average one liter of kerosene a week, using a large amount of the income of an average farming family in the village.

“We reap huge benefits from solar power. It adds to our profit margins because we are able to sell even at night,” said store owner Rosalia Dulig. With the solar-powered light, she is able to serve customers up to 8 pm.

“Before, when we were using a kerosene lamp, it blackened our walls and our children inhaled the smoke, which affects their health,” said Apolonia Cortaje, a 35-year-old manager of a solar battery charging station.

There are six solar battery charging stations in the village, each catering to 10 to 15 households. There are some 70 households, each with their own solar battery. Those who manage the solar battery charging stations are usually full-time housewives, who charge one battery a day or an average six batteries in a week, earning for them extra income.

It takes a full day and a small fee to charge a solar battery, which then lasts for 10 to 15 nights. Each beneficiary remits a small fee as monthly dues for two years for battery replacement, which has a two to three-year lifetime. The renewable energy system itself can last 20 years.

The Bunog solar project is one of two non-functioning renewable energy systems made operational again by the ADB-funded project. The other project is the rehabilitation of a twin micro hydropower system in the norther province of Kalinga.

The Philippines has been developing new and renewable energy systems for rural electrification with solar, mini-hydro and wind power. While most of the projects provide reliable and cost-effective electricity services to the communities they serve, about 20 to 25 percent fail due to sub-standard equipment and inadequate after-sales services.

The government requested ADB assistance to rehabilitate the failed projects. ADB responded by providing a $450,000 grant for a project implemented by India’s Energy and Resource Institute and IDP Consultants Inc. of the Philippines.

ADB Funds “Green” Recycling Center in Smokey Mountain

September 14, 2007

The ADB-funded MRF in Smokey Mountain, Tondo.

The ADB-funded MRF in Smokey Mountain, Tondo.




(published in the Business & Environment magazine, 2nd quarter 2007 issue) 

SMOKEY MOUNTAIN was once a 2 million-ton garbage heap that, for over 40 years, served as a waste disposal facility for the Philippines’ capital city of Manila. It drew a large community of informal settlers who scavenged the garbage for their livelihood.

Once Manila’s scourge, Smokey Mountain has been transformed by the government into a low-income housing community for more than 30,000 people. Though the housing situation has improved, the area remains home to individual waste pickers, junk shops, and a variety of people and cooperatives engaged in recycling municipal solid waste, often under very difficult working conditions.

“It became apparent that there was a need to improve the recycling facility and provide capacity building and skills training to the community,” says Anita Celdran, program director of Sustainable Project Management, which is working to address the problem.

In addition, new services were needed. The supply chain had to be organized, and the recycling process had to be streamlined to double the selling price of the recyclables. The work conditions of the waste sorters in the area can be quite precarious.

“It became evident that to improve the work environment, a new workspace has become imperative,” says Ms. Celdran.

To address this issue, ADB is working with the Philippine government’s National Solid Waste Management Commission to support Sustainable Project Management, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization that is training the Smokey Mountain community in improving their waste recycling through better collection, sorting and exporting. Trash is transformed into primary materials that can fetch higher profits in international markets like China, a major importer of recycled plastics.

“Communities like Smokey Mountain have been stepping up waste recycling programs and turning what used to be regarded as unwanted trash into precious, revenue-generating treasures,” says Celdran.

On May 11, the Smokey Mountain community inaugurated its first “green” material recovery facility, or waste collection center, with the health and safety of the community in mind.

Under the Philippines new National Solid Waste Management Law, communities are encouraged to set up “material recovery facilities” to help divert waste from active landfills. The facility is supported by a $229,500 grant under ADB’s Poverty and Environment Program through contributions from the governments of Norway and Sweden, and the ADB’s technical assistance funding program.

For more than two years, Sustainable Project Management has been training and assisting the community, led by its parish priest, Father Ben Beltran, and the Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

The facility is designed for natural ventilation, protection from heavy rains, and will have a large kitchen area for an expanded food catering business, to feed the workers at the site. The company Holcim Cement provided a 10-day construction training course for 40 residents, who in turn donated some of their time to help build the facility.

“It has truly taken the effort and support of the whole community to make this new building a reality,” says Ms. Celdran.

Workers sort waste at the MRF.

Workers sort waste at the MRF.

In addition to the waste recycling facility, Sustainable Project Management is also working to educate the community on recycling. Households in Smokey Mountain will sort their trash and contribute to the supply chain as most of the organic waste comes directly from collection bins outside of each building in the community.

The cooperative in the area has also been recycling old newspapers and phone books into handbags and accessories, sold mostly to the Australian market. Over 100 housewives were trained to make the bags, giving them additional income. A fashion line of clothing is also being launched to create job opportunities in the community.

Despite the projects underway in Smokey Mountain, much work remains to be done, says Ms. Celdran. The remaining landfill continues to be a health and safety hazard for the community. Rainwater percolating through the mountain continues to carry traces of metals and toxins that pose health risks to the community even as the mountain now seems to be covered with grass. Unaware of the hazards, a number of community members are growing vegetable gardens on the mountain top while children play along the water run-off.

Children still scavenge at what remains of Smokey Mountain, near the MRF.

Children still scavenge at some areas of Smokey Mountain, near the MRF.