A P10M project that multiplies its benefits twofold without the club incurring a peso of expense for the second—is that possible?
The answer is a resounding YES!
The story of the Rotary Club of Makati’s biggest water project shows how prudent management of resources, effective networking, and the application of personal expertise and experience can be synergized for the most beneficial outcome.
Funded by a 3H (Health, Hunger and Humanity) matching grant of $189,000 (about P10 million at the time) from The Rotary Foundation, the San Fernando Water Project was conceived and implemented by Cristino “Tito” Panlilio during his term as club president in 1999-2000. Pres. Tito’s line of business is developing water systems in water-challenged communities in many parts of the country.
Pres. Tito chose San Fernando, Pampanga because he knew the place well and was familiar with both its resources and its needs. His expertise and experience in waterworks development was put to good use for the project: an integrated water system consisting of a large scale water well, a 50,000-gallon overhead water tank built on donated land, and a pipeline network 10 kms long that wove through three barangays—Balite, Panipuan and Molino, all of which had been weighed down by a serious lack of water for a long time.
The project, which took two and a half years to finish and was inaugurated on March 8, 2003, has been providing piped water to an initial 1,000 households with individual water meters. The area of coverage and customer base have since grown.
Of the $189,000 3-H fund secured for the project, only $150,000 was spent, leaving a balance of $39,000. The savings were realized as a result of the excellent electric service in the province, which negated the need for a generator. Also, the 450 sq.m. lot on which the water tank stands was donated by a civic-minded Pampangueño, and the electric transformer was built free of charge by the Pampanga Electric Cooperative—all these complimentary features the fruits of good networking.
It was agreed that paying customers form a cooperative to manage and operate the system, with RC Makati members, acting in their personal capacity, serving as advisers.
On March 31, 2012, after 10 years of efficient operation, the Club formally turned over to the Water District of San Fernando City in Pampanga the water project that has since become known as the Makati Rotary 3H Resources Inc.
There was a problem about what to do with the unused portion of the grant. Realizing savings, especially this substantial an amount (over P2M), was without precedent in the Club. The norm was that the full grant amount would be used up by the time the project is completed. The Club was of two minds about what to do: one, send back the saved amount to TRF with an explanation of how the savings came about, and two, secure permission to use it for a similar project. They took the second option.
With approval from TRF, the savings of $39,000 was combined with the proceeds from the operation of the San Fernando Cooperative to put up the P3M fund required for a second water project patterned after the San Fernando model, this time in Barangay Virgen de los Remedios in Bamban town in the neighboring province of Tarlac. The project area has about 350 households, majority of whose residents are OFW families who own tricycles and farm lots and receive monthly dollar remittances from abroad. This new project was started in 2009 and now serves the water needs of the Virgen de los Remedios community.
The Rotary Club of Makati’s San Fernando water project is truly worthy of replication in all communities still reeling from the inconvenience that lack of water brings.