Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Be Secure Project’s Finale & World Water Day
22 March 2017 | The Peninsula Hotel, Makati City
“We never know the worth of water, till the well is dry.”
This is probably one of the most overused adages about water. Understandably as it encapsulates the continuing challenge of water security and sustainability.
Water is a basic need yet it is a resource that we have taken for granted. Perhaps the seeming abundance of it creates a sense of complacency without realizing that of all the world’s water, only about 0.5% is suitable for human consumption.
In 2015, 91% of the world’s population had access to an improved drinking-water source, compared with 76% in 1990. About 4.2 billion people now get water through a piped connection; while 2.4 billion access water through other improved sources such as public taps, protected wells and boreholes.
However, at least 1.8 billion people around the world use a drinking-water source that is fecally contaminated. Moreover, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025.
Here in the Philippines, around eight million Filipinos still lack access to safe water and about the same number still practice open defecation.
While we try to address these problems, we are faced with new challenges.
Water stress, amplified by climate change, will create a growing security challenge. In fact, the Philippines will likely experience severe water shortage by 2040 due to the combined impact of rapid population growth and climate change.
The USAID knows this very well and we are grateful for your support in addressing these challenges through the Be Secure Project, especially through capacity-building program for local governments and inculcating the importance of water conservation and management to communities in the context of climate change.
We acknowledge the fact that the continued overlapping and fragmented regulation of water supply services in the country by several government entities is one factor that hinders the enactment of a doable and long-term solution to prevent water shortage.
It is a priority of the government to create an Integrated Water Resource Management Framework as well as short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies and programs for the National Masterplan for Water.
These were discussed in an interagency meeting for the National Water Summit and Roadmap, which involved all the water agencies and private sector representatives, that was convened in Malacañang last January. Challenges were identified in the following sectors—household, urban, agriculture, economic, environmental, resilience, and governance.
Consultations are ongoing but one thing is certain: we need to consolidate all water agencies in the country and craft a roadmap for sustainable water use. Much work needs to be done and we are thankful that we have partners like the USAID to support us.
Today, on World Water Day, we are again reminded that we are the stewards of the Earth, not here to exploit, but to sustainably manage our natural resources. Just as it is our right to access clean water, it is also our responsibility to ensure that the well never runs dry.
 Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732
 Drinking Water Fact sheet, World Health Organization
 World Resources Institute