By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – The Provincial Integrated Water Security Council on Friday approved the Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan 2023-2030 of Negros Occidental to address water security issues, such as increasing investments for water, improving capacities of water service providers, long-term source development planning, as well as protection and conservation of watersheds.
With the approval of water security plans, Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, who presided over the 1st Provincial Integrated Water Security Council meeting at the Seda Hotel in Bacolod City, said it is now important to cascade this to local government units, whose participation is very crucial in the success of the water security plan of Negros Occidental.
In Negros Occidental, which has a 3-million population, 25 percent have no access to water supply, and 18 percent have no access to sanitation services, according to Lacson.
The critical water security of Negros Occidental has been blamed on the rapid population growth, urbanization, and water demand of agriculture, which is also further aggravated by water pollution, water-borne diseases, and the destruction of watersheds.
“Our Provincial Integrated Water Security Plan should also be utilized by our local government units in planning their Water and Sanitation or WASH plans and build on integrating water resource management to different policies and programs for water service provision and the management of watersheds in the province,” Lacson said.
He also stressed the need for investments to achieve water supply and sanitation targets, as the importance of Public Private Partnerships in increasing sources of water.
“LGUs may look into Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) for users to enhance LGU budgets for watershed management.”
In June 2021, the Negros Occidental provincial government, in collaboration with USAID through its Safe Water Project, launched the Provincial Integrated Water Security Program.
Lacson thanked USAID for their commitment to a shared goal of a water secure future and for the improved well-being of Negrense families in water-stressed communities in Negros Occidental.