The Philippines is a country of over 3,500 islands in the West Pacific. The islands are home to over 100 million people; the world’s 13th largest country. Tacloban is one of The Philippines’ regional centres. In 2013, the city was struck by tragedy when Typhoon Haiyan swept through. Millions in the country were displaced, and every building in Tacloban was either significantly damaged or destroyed. New accommodation has been built and broader rebuilding efforts continue, but the threat and reality of tropical storms makes it a difficult task.
Clive is a plumber from Victoria who heard about Tacloban and its residents. When visiting one of the new housing communities, Clive was shocked to see many residents without fresh water in their homes, forced to carry heavy buckets to central distribution points – and pay up to $10 for the privilege of a refill. Clive saw that the villagers urgently needed a replacement source of fresh water that was relatively low cost, easy to distribute, and decentralised.
The solution became clear. The Philippines’ unique geographical location means an abundance of one thing; rainwater. Tacloban receives over 2,000mm of rain annually. For comparison, Australia receives on average 450mm of rain. Clive saw this natural resource going untapped and applied for a Reece Grant.
Clive’s project will be to install rainwater tanks on top of the houses of displaced Tacloban residents. The tanks will include downpipes and internal water pipes, connecting the rainwater tanks to the home’s water systems. Rainheads from Australia will ensure the maximum amount of water is captured.
“Manufacturing these tank stands and installing them will also boost local employment. We’re helping the community help each other.”
Beyond the immediate benefits, Clive sees more long-term effects for the project. The ownership of each water tank gives families a stake in their water usage, reducing consumption. As residents see how simple and smoothly the rainwater tank installation is, they may opt to fund the installation of their own tanks. Lastly, women and children, who are currently doing the bulk of the water transportation, will have a reduced workload.
For Clive, the success of this project isn’t just tanks of fresh drinking water. He hopes to pass on his knowledge to local families and labourers. “Hopefully, the villagers will see how effective the tanks are. We’ll train them how to safely and correctly install them on their own.” It’s a project that’s ultimately about independence, and helping a community recover a sense of control over their own lives.