Super Typhoon Haiyan caused considerable damage to infrastructure as it moved through the Philippines. Many towns now rely on bottled water to access safe drinkable water. To provide a sustainable solution, Royal HaskoningDHV sourced a water filtration system from a social enterprise and distributed almost 3000 filters to affected areas in the Philippines, thereby reducing the creation of plastic waste, CO2 pollution and financial burdens.
In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan tore through the Philippines with sustained winds of 195 mph. The storm caused considerable damage to local infrastructure, with access safe potable a real problem in many areas devastated. Although plastic water bottles provide a solution to the safe water problem, they come at considerable costs – in terms of plastic waste, transportation and high use costs. In a bid to provide an economically sustainable and ecological solution, Royal HaskoningDHV supported a solution through its Green Fund*.
Filtering out plastic
In the San Remigio province, the consulting firm has deployed a low cost and easy to manufacture plastic drinking water filter. The filter is designed for longevity through resistance to corrosion and chemicals – in line with the sustainability requirement of its Green Fund. Besides removing the need for bottled water and its related problems, the solution also brings with it improvements to air quality in huts as water no longer needs to be boiled.
The water filters are produced by a social enterprise in Indonesia called Nazava, whose aim is to produce affordable, safe and innovative filters which comply with World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Royal HaskoningDHV has helped manage and distribute 2,940 filters to the cities of Cebu, Bacolod, Ormoc, Roxas and Tacurong. The filters delivered so far represent 6 million days of clean and safe drinking water whilst removing the need to pump more than 400 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The project is further supported by the Philippines charity Gawad Kalinga, whose aim is to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024 and forward the United Nation’s (UN) Sustainable Development Goal of providing safe and affordable drinking water to the world’s people.
“Before our visit, we learned from Dan Bercasio of Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation that the villagers were obliged to buy drinking water,” says Agnes Domingo from Royal HaskoningDHV in the Philippines. “Bottled water costs a lot of money and its production and distribution leaves a large CO2 footprint. We showed the villagers what the water filters were for, how to assemble and how to use them. After the demonstration, we handed the water filters over to the villagers so they could try to use them for themselves.”
Daniel Levelt of Royal HaskoningDHV, who helped set up the Green Fund adds: “We recognised the innovation, saw an opportunity to contribute to improving the lives of thousands of people, and have sustained the initiative to make a big difference to the people in the Philippines.”
* The Green Fund, which has been created as part of the firm’s social responsibility activity, is an internally funded initiative that enables employees to fund initiatives for sustainable change and CO2 reduction in local communities on the basis of sustainability.