As the pandemic persists, Manila Water Foundation (MWF), together with its partners P&G Safeguard Philippines, JCI Quezon City Capitol, and the Quezon City Government, formally inaugurated four new handwashing facilities and rehabilitated two (2) existing ones in various strategic public areas in Quezon City on September 4.
The handwashing facility’s unique “hybrid” design allows users to turn on the faucet in two ways, either via a lever that can be used by a hand or an elbow, or by using a foot pedal. There is also a one-meter distance between faucets to observe physical distancing.
The facility is PWD-friendly as well as it has a ramp and a lowered sink, which can also be accessed by small children. Each facility is built with three faucets with readily available soap containers, and signages about COVID-19 precautionary measures, proper handwashing, and water conservation.
The general public frequenting the QC Hall Complex, patients and medical frontliners of the Kamuning and Murphy Super Health Centers, and 64 locally-stranded individuals are immediate beneficiaries of these handwashing facilities because they can readily wash their hands as they enter or leave the premises. Compared with makeshift handwashing facilities, this “hybrid” infrastructure design is more reliable and sustainable because it has direct access to clean water and connection to a drainage system.
Salvador Patingo, a former construction worker who lost his job due to the pandemic took temporary shelter in the Quezon City Memorial Basketball Court. He shared, “Malaking tulong po ito sa amin—itong pasilidad na ito. Makakainom kami ng malinis na tubig, makakapag-handwash din po. Hindi lang po sa amin, pati po sa ibang tao po na gagamit ng pasilidad na ito (This facility is a huge help for us. We can now drink clean water and wash our hands. This is helpful not only for us but for those who will use this facility as well).”
As the first line of defense against the coronavirus, proper handwashing is essential, but the lack of handwashing stations in Metro Manila can be a challenge, especially for marginalized communities.
Mayor Joy Belmonte stressed the importance of these facilities in relation to meeting the minimum health standards in battling COVID-19. “One of the most important—if not the most important—is washing of hands—good hygiene. [However,] so many of our communities and our people do not have access to clean water, with which to wash their hands. Kaya naman, labis-labis ang pasasalamat ko, because—handwashing facilities—minsan hirap na hirap ang local government to provide this. (That’s why we are very much grateful because it is very difficult for the local government sometimes to provide these handwashing facilities.) With the help of Manila Water, we are able to provide this for our citizens.”
Belmonte also emphasized the significance of collaboration between the public and private sectors. “By working together—the public and the private sector—we will really conquer the COVID-19 pandemic.”
An ongoing partnership for WASH in Pandemic
Aside from providing these hand hygiene structures, MWF also turned over 1,800 packs of hygiene kits and IEC (information, education, and communication) materials for special concern lockdown (SCL) communities to help address the immediate sanitation needs of the residents, as well as additional 200 packs for the beneficiaries in these new handwashing facilities.
The installation of these hybrid handwashing facilities and distribution of hygiene packages are under Manila Water Foundation’s banner program “WASH in Pandemic” which aims to help protect communities from the spread of COVID-19 and provide an enabling environment for proper handwashing.
For more information and ways to help the WASH in Pandemic Program of Manila Water Foundation, visit its website at www.manilawaterfoundation.org.