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  1. Ecosan Projects in San Fernando City, Province of La Union

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Abstract

ecosan2Introduction

This case study is about the first Ecosan pilot projects in the City of San Fernando, Province of La Union, Philippines. These projects were implemented under the Integrated Support for Sustainable Urban Environment (ISSUE) Programme of the WASTE, a Dutch NGO from the Netherlands with the Center for Advanced Philippine Studies (CAPS) as local implementing Partner.

Background

The City of San Fernando in the Province of La Union is one of the biggest urban centers in Northern Luzon. At the start of the project in 2004, the city had a population of 102, 082 residents (National Statistics Office, May 2000) with an annual average growth of 2.265%. The population rate is expected to increase to 127, 708 by 2010. With the constantly growing population comes different issues and concerns that the city needs to address.
In terms of sanitation, a significant percentage of the city’s population has access to water-sealed or flush type toilets. But this is not even enough since there are still those in the coastal and upland barangays who practice open defecation or using unsanitary open pit toilets. Such practice is likely to cause different types of diseases and water pollution directly to those who are unlined or whose pipes are not properly maintained because of the issue of the lack of water source.

Objectives

Since sanitation has been pinpointed as one of the major concerns in San Fernando City, the city government took the step of accepting to pilot the Ecosan project in the Philippines. The program objective was to promote and adopt sustainable sanitation as a guiding (and complementary) principle for meeting the sanitation and environmental needs of the core poor in the pilot areas. The pilot project was also to address the sanitation issues of the city such as: the lack of toilets among the poor residents, the scarce water supply and contaminated ground water sources.

Beneficiaries

Three low-income, water-scarce communities in San Fernando City, La Union Province in northern Philippines adopted Ecological Sanitation (Ecosan) in 2004 and successfully improved their health and environment conditions with the assistance of the City Government and in partnership with the Center for Advanced Philippine Studies (CAPS. These communities are:
(1) Barangay Nagyubuyuban – an upland farming village with 1,300 people; (2) Barangay San Agustin – a coastal urban poor village with 1,900 people; and (3) Fishermen’s Village – a resettlement coastal village with 450 people.
These three communities belong to the majority population below poverty line in the City of San Fernando. The poor households do not have toilets so they are left with no choice but to openly defecate. Open defecation has been an accepted practice since time immemorial in the communities of Nagyubuyuban, San Agustin and the coastal community of Ilocanos Norte and Ilocanos Sur where the Fishermen and their families came from before being relocated to the Fishermen’s Village. In this kind of situation therefore, it is almost a common illness especially among children in the communities to suffer from diarrhea and soil transmitted helminthes disease (worm infection).

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1. Ecosan Projects in San Fernando City, Province of La Union

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