Reflections from Masy Consultants WASHEd Lead Kathleen May Faigal
It was about a year ago during the early stage of the team’s project implementation of “Advancing the Self-Sufficiency & Better Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) behaviors in Cebu”, when we hosted a webinar titled “Water, Development, and the role of Young Leaders” and discussed our “AHA moments” as a system leader. The phrase, “we are in it for the long run”, as a key takeaway on that webinar, became my mantra. With that thought in my mind, we navigated through the possibilities of how we would ensure our project delivered and sustained long-term impact.
During the closing event in Lombok, Indonesia on 27-28 June 2022, I represented Masy Consultants, together with our Youth Volunteers, Jeta Jiranuntarat and Steven Setiawan. Ten civil society organizations (CSOs) and Youth Volunteers from all across ASEAN, were invited to present their project summary to the ASEAN Foundation and Maybank Foundation. With just a limited time to present, the team reflected on the challenges faced over the entire project duration.
Group photo of all CSOs, Youth Volunteer representatives, and project sponsors Maybank Foundation and ASEAN Foundation (Courtesy: ASEAN Foundation)
During the presentation, we started on why we chose to focus our attention and resources on Cebu City. Cebu City is vulnerable to waterborne disease outbreaks due to its population density and coastal locality of many barangays. Furthermore, the wider province also became a hotspot during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Masy Consultants’ innovative WASH Education (WASHEd) program, our team achieved positive short-term, intermediate, and long-term impacts by educating teachers and barangay leaders coupled with the supply of WASH facilities. In parallel, our trusted team of Youth Volunteers delivered their own project to amplify Masy Consultants’ projects through the supply of emergency WASH kits, water purifying pills, and preparation of activities, which were integrated into the WASHEd Learning Curriculum.
We then shared the number of challenges and adjustments faced, emphasizing the importance of “WASH in Emergency” to enhance a community’s resilience and post-disaster recovery. When the Youth Volunteers prioritised the procurement of emergency WASH kits, Masy Consultants collaborated with them to ensure supplies were distributed to at-risk schools and barangays a week before Super Typhoon Rai “Typhoon Odette” struck Cebu province. We never imagined that the kits would be used right away, as partnering barangays and schools were significantly affected. It left a great impact not only in the Masy team but also on our Youth Volunteers, all of whom were committed to helping those most vulnerable.
Personally, experiencing Typhoon Rai had a great impact on my personal and professional life. We faced the crisis of obtaining basic needs like water and electricity. Several waterborne disease incidents and outbreaks were also observed across Cebu province, as the water supply is intermittent, and infrastructures were also damaged. People had to resort to drinking and using water from untreated sources like springs, rivers, rainwater, or even seawater.
Those experiences led us to the top three lessons learned:
Crisis management - This is an important aspect of WASH, as not everyone is prepared when it comes to disasters. The barangays and schools that we partnered with, did not have sufficient resources or budget allocation for emergency WASH kits. The Youth Volunteers responded by pivoting their project direction to support disaster preparedness.
Education and training - To ensure content is echoed in classrooms and community forums, it is important to integrate educational materials into the existing memorandum of the local stakeholders to help facilitate adoption and implementation.
Stakeholder selection - It is critical to establish and maintain a partnership with national, regional, provincial, or city-level government organizations as they have the agency to implement existing guidelines, where the team’s effort can serve as their catalyst.
Masy Consultants presentation accessible on Youtube
For long-term sustainability, Masy Consultants plan to digitalise WASHEd, with the help of partners, The Department of Education in Cebu City, and the Philippine Society of Sanitary Engineers. At present, Masy Consultants is currently refining the contents of each WASHEd module following the pilot delivery in select elementary schools in Cebu City. The Youth Volunteers also suggested incorporating Emergency Modules in the WASHEd Learning Curriculum, which the Masy team will investigate further.
After all group presentations, all CSOs and Youth Volunteers were invited by ASEAN Foundation to visit the project site of Nexus3 Foundation at Sekotong, East Lombok, Indonesia. This project focused on educating students about educational technology and environmental issues. The site is also known for high levels of mercury exposure as a way to extract gold from mining. As the site poses neurological, cardiovascular and other risks to the overall health of a human being, education is really important to the community, especially for younger generations as they become increasingly vulnerable to environmental challenges. Such initiatives whether it be the work of Nexus3 Foundation or Masy Consultants’ WASHEd program, are fundamental to empowering future generations with the capabilities and confidence to create a better future in their communities and the wider region.
I would like to express my gratitude to the ASEAN Foundation, Maybank Foundation, and Maybank for believing in Masy Consultants and remaining strong supporters of our work in the Philippines. It is essential we work together to ensure no one is left behind.
Visiting the project site of Nexus3 Foundation at Sekotong, East Lombok, Indonesia
About Masy Consultants
Masy Consultants is a social enterprise that provides clients with services ranging from project management and consultations to community engagement in the areas of clean water, sanitation, and renewable energy. With a team of professionals based across Australia and the Asia-Pacific, Masy remains results-driven, collaborative and resilient when it comes to delivering the best possible outcomes. Learn more at www.masyconsultants.org.
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