Water supply is a critical global issue that requires careful management and sustainable practices to ensure the availability of clean and safe water for all. With increasing population, industrialization, and climate change, water scarcity has become a pressing concern in many regions. Sustainable water management practices, such as water conservation, efficient irrigation systems, and responsible water use in industries, are crucial to address this challenge.

The Philippines is an archipelago, or string of over 7,107 islands, in southeastern Asia between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The two largest islands, Luzon and Mindanao, make up for two-thirds of the total land area. Only about one third of the islands are inhabited.

Despite the thousands of islands occupying the area, why does the state lacks water supply?

The World Health Organization is working with the Philippines Department of Health and other sector agencies to ensure safe water for all through the development and implementation of water safety planning, strengthening systems and capacity for drinking-water quality surveillance and monitoring, and improvement of water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities. Raising awareness about the importance of water conservation, hygiene practices, and responsible water use is crucial. Therefore, education programs and public campaigns can empower individuals to contribute to sustainable water management.

Asked to react to the call for a comprehensive plan to address a possible water crisis, PBBM said that the government has an “overall plan” aimed at improving the way water resources are managed.

“They may not have heard the fact that we have organized already the Office of Water Management precisely to address this problem,” Marcos said. “All of these things we have already put up together – we have already (put) together (an) overall plan. Now, we have to implement it… There are many agencies that are concerned when it comes to water management. So, we have to make it more cohesive,” he added.

Marcos said the Office of Water Management would be attached to the Office of the President and the environment department.

In line with this, climate change poses additional challenges to water supply through altered rainfall patterns, increased droughts, and rising sea levels. Adapting water management strategies to the changing climate, including water storage, groundwater management, and climate-resilient infrastructure, is vital. Addressing water supply challenges often requires cross-border collaboration, especially for shared water resources. International agreements, treaties, and cooperation frameworks can facilitate sustainable management and equitable sharing of water resources.

While individual contributions are vital, governments still have the obligation to provide safe and reliable drinking water sources to people through long-term solutions. As it stands, too much reliance on surface water such as rivers and lakes as well as groundwater will not be sustainable in the future due to the climate reality and increasing water demand from the population.

“Strategies such as the application of improved rainwater collection systems and state-of the-art desalination technologies coupled with renewable energies can be used in the Philippines,” explained Engr. Magtibay. “By adopting innovative and long-term solutions, the Philippines can ensure water for all that will protect the peoples’ health and help drive sustainable development forward.”

Ensuring sustainable water supply requires a multifaceted approach that encompasses efficient management practices, infrastructure development, conservation efforts, and international cooperation. By implementing these measures, we can work towards a future where clean and safe water is accessible to all, supporting human well-being, economic development, and environmental sustainability.