JICA Experts hail disaster resiliency of COWD rehab project

Dec 22, 2013

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The highest official of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency Philippine Office hopes the disaster resiliency built into the rehabilitated facilities of the Cagayan de Oro City Water District damaged by Tropical Storm Sendong would serve as a model for other water districts in the country.

 

Local dignitaries witness the formal signing of the Deed of Donation for P52-M worth of equipment and supplies provided by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the rejabilitation of the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) facilities destroyed during Tropical Storm Sendong two years ago. Signing the Deed of Donation are Takahiro Sasaki, Chief Representative of JICA Phil Office and COWD Gen Manager Rachel Beja. Witnessing the signing are Kag. Roger Abaday; Ryutaro Aoki, 1st Secretary, Embassy of Japan; Ed Santos, acting administrator, LWUA and Ruben Vegafria, Chairman, COWD Board of Directors. (photo by Mike Banos, NPM)

 

Takahiro Sasaki, chief representative for JICA’s Philippine Office, lauded COWD’s pro-active stance during the Turnover Ceremony of the Deed of Donation held at a local hotel Thursday, 12 December.

 

“My congratulations to COWD for considering disaster resilience as an important component in this project, and I hope you will continue to adopt, be proactive and also implement this kind of strategy for the rest of your water system,” Mr. Sasaki said during his formal turnover speech. “More importantly, I hope that this will set a standard for making public facilities and resources disaster-resilient in the country.”

 

Local dignitaries witness the formal signing of the Deed of Donation for P52-M worth of equipment and supplies provided by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for the rejabilitation of the Cagayan de Oro City Water District (COWD) facilities destroyed during Tropical Storm Sendong two years ago. Signing the Deed of Donation are Takahiro Sasaki, Chief Representative of JICA Phil Office and COWD Gen Manager Rachel Beja. Witnessing the signing are Kag. Roger Abaday; Ryutaro Aoki, 1st Secretary, Embassy of Japan; Ed Santos, acting administrator, LWUA and Ruben Vegafria, Chairman, COWD Board of Directors. (photo by Mike Banos, NPM)

 

In the aftermath of the killer flash floods spawned by Tropical Storm Sendong on 16-17 December, 2013, the COWD water system was badly damaged prompting the Japanese government through JICA to extend technical assistance in the amount of P52-million through the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) for the immediate rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure.

 

The technical assistance included the provision of equipment such as pumps, generators, water meters, data loggers, chlorination facility, power cables, a bio-safety cabinet and a short term expert to expedite the full restoration of COWD’s operations and provision of safe water supply in Cagayan de Oro City.

 

The JICA grant was formally acknowledged by Ruben Vegafria, chairman of the COWD Board of Directors.

 

“Typhoon Sendong has long been gone, but the tragic memories remain, even the pain.  Stories of fear and hopelessness have been told and retold many times over but only two great experiences are worth remembering: We saw the indomitable spirit of the Kagay-anons to rise above the ruins of Sendong. And we saw the outpouring of kindness of the international community to respond to save humanity in times of disaster and its unconditional generosity to help rebuild hope for the afflicted.”

 

Mr. Vegafria cited the swift response from the people of Japan through JICA as “a living testimony of JICA’s noble role in promoting international understanding, goodwill, peace and better friendship.”

 

“To the government of Japan and JICA, please accept our deepest gratitude. Indeed, while Sendong will linger in our collective memory, the JICA rehabilitation project will temper the pain with the realization that the human spirit knows no boundaries,” he said in his acceptance speech. “Let me assure our fidelity as stewards of the things which you have entrusted to our care.”

 

Acting LWUA Administrator Eduardo C. Santos similarly acknowledged the JICA grant as indicative of the increasing trend for “Water Cooperation’ not only at high level talks between countries but between water districts in the country as well.

 

“Our concept of Water District in utility services has been shown as a successful model in terms of water public utility,” Mr. Santos noted. “During calamities, neighboring water districts are ready to help and assist the affected water districts.”

 

He cited the cases of COWD, Compostela Valley, the recent earthquake in Ayungan, Negros Oriental, and in Clarin, Bohol. And the latest in Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Panay Island, and part of Palawan due to Typhoon Yolanda.

 

“LWUA in cooperation with PAWAD, has started talking about strengthening further LWUA’s capability to react during disasters,” he disclosed. “LWUA’s Disaster Assistance Reaction Team (DART) has been in the forefront every time disaster occurs. We are contemplating of involving PAWAD (Phil. Association of Water Districts) so that reaction time can be faster.”

 

“LWUA as the agency mandated by the government in the development of water systems nationwide, will always be there to assist all water districts that need its assistance. We have again proven the success of the LWUA-Water District Partnership,” he added.

 

For his part, Mr. Sasaki hopes the success of the COWD rehabilitation project and its integration of disaster-resiliency not only serve as a model, but also a beacon of hope for the other areas of the country like Zamboanga, Bohol and the Visayas which were recently ravaged by similar disasters.

 

“Let this occasion be our message, to encourage them to hold on, be strong, and believe that they will soon recover to be more resilient and disaster ready in the future,” Mr. Sasaki said. “Let us all transform our experiences and lessons from the recent earthquake, Tropical Storm Sendong and Typhoon Yolanda to a more concrete, effective and climate adaptive measures that will mitigate damage by disasters and further protect the lives of our people.”

 

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