Urban poor: small piped water networks help slums in Manila, Philippines
Updated - Friday 21 September 2007
Small piped water networks are no longer the domain of informal entrepreneurs going where utilities won’t or can’t go, slums. Manila Water Company Inc. has demonstrated the scheme one way, and the Asian Development Bank is helping it and other utilities demonstrate the scheme in a variety of other ways. Small pipes and flexible payment options are the future of connections. In 2005, Manila Water Company Inc., the private utility responsible for northern Metro Manila, began connecting the 40,000-plus households along the manmade Manggahan Floodway, where unauthorized slums proliferate along the 9-kilometer stretch that leads to the Laguna Bay. To clear the technical hurdles often present in densely populated areas, Manila Water turned to small piped water networks as a solution. Involving four homeowners associations Manila Water installs a bulk meter at one end of the street. The residents are given 1 to 3 years to pay for a household connection, which covers pipes and household meters. Manila Water only reads the bulk meter, and a “street leader,” nominated by the street residents, reads household meters and collects payments.
In less than one year, from start to finish, an area has piped, treated, metered water, 24 hours everyday. The scheme has its downsides. At times, street leaders misuse the money they’ve collected. Street leaders also have no legal capacity to prevent connected customers from illegally selling their tap water to outsiders. ADB is working with the other private Manila concessionaire, Maynilad, to pilot the small piped water network scheme, but is using an individual entrepreneur as partner. The scheme is also being piloted in Sri Lanka and Viet Nam.
Source: Melissa Alipalo, Water for All, May 2007
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