Violence, water, governance
Lack of water will breed violence. The only way to stop this is through good water governace. If President Duterte wishes to stop this violence, and simultaneously reduce poverty, he must add another priority to his fight against drugs, corruption and jueteng.
He must add water governance. Duterte has demonstrated good water governance in Cebu through his Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Michael Diño. Cebu has never had such progress in this area before. Duterte must now expand this on a nationwide scale and give water governance the attention it never got.
The Pacific Institute (PI), which studies the link between violence and water, found a four-fold increase in violent consultations over water during the last decade. PI president Peter Gliech said: “The risk of conflict over water is growing—not shrinking —because of increased competition, bad management, and ultimately, the impact of climate change.”
We are running out of water. We can survive without electricity but we cannot survive without water: to drink, to grow the food we need and to meet other basic requirements. The Kidapawan, North Cotabato violence can ultimately be traced to little food and little water because of El Niño.
According to the United Nations, the greatest challenge facing the world today is water. Some countries are waging wars over water. In the Philippines, violence is already erupting as people fight over water.
How does our water situation compare to other nations? Consider the following table from the Asian Development Bank. See table below.
The problem is that we have no good water governance. More than 30 water related agencies do not even talk to each other. Let us look at the results from this bad governance.
ADB studied five dimensions of water security: household, economic, urban, environment, and resilience. This was done across 48 countries. The Philippines emerged in the bottom 20 percent at number 38. Indonesia did much better at number 27.
On an overall 1 to 5 index across these dimensions, both Indonesia and the Philippines got a rating of 2, which indicates a very serious problem. But Indonesia is far better off. It has a score at 50 on a 1 to 100 scale, while the Philippines is only at 40. Because of good governance, Singapore has a high score of 83 with a very good index rating of 4.
There is hope that good water governance is around the corner. In a meeting with the five coalition Agri-Fisheries Alliance, Duterte committed to address our current water crisis. Consistent with this, we saw Duterte’s successful water initiative in Cebu. He must now implement this throughout the country.
On Jan. 20, a public-private sector meeting will be held to be led by the Office of the President, department secretaries with Secretary Gina Lopez , the legislature with Sen. Loren Legarda, LGUs and private sector leaders from both agriculture and industry. This will be done at the executive secretary’s conference room in Malacañang to approve an approach for “out-of-the-box” strategies, plans, and implementation programs. Specific short and long term actions will be discussed and measured on the five water security aspects found in the table above.
A proposed plan is to have a National Water Summit in June to usher in Duterte’s second year as a possible start of a golden age for good water governance.
We will then have better water quality and availability, prevent water-related violence, and reduce poverty in our water-starved nation.
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