Clean water and proper sanitation is a common problem in marginal areas here in the Philippines. A common solution, however, is not always as simple when the area of concern is beyond the reach of conventional modes of transportation. But this did not deter the Association of Locally Empowered Youth – Northern Mindanao (ALEY-NM) in taking on the Ecological Sanitation and Rainwater Conservation Project.
Hailing from Misamis Oriental, ALEY observed how the lack of water in upland marginal areas, such as Libertad, Initao and Manticao, make health and sanitation take the back seat. The little water that farmers obtain from far-off creeks isn’t enough for traditional flush toilets, much more for a proper sewage system. For this reason, ALEY members decided to turn things around by building arborloo ecological sanitation toilets; creating EcoPee, which is the collection of urine to be used as fertilizer; and storing rainwater for household use.
Mary Grace Maboloc, ALEY’s representative to the 8th TAYO Search, expressed that seeing the hardship in her community and how families struggle to survive is what pushed her to volunteer and become a member of the organization. She describes her fellow members as “willing to experience new things, motivated, and unstoppable.”
What’s the Story?
ALEY was originally organized by local youth leaders from 8 barrios and a Belgian volunteer. Under the Ecological Sanitation and Rainwater Conservation Project, ALEY has established a seedling nursery, raising 3200 seedlings; and has conducted a vegetable gardening project using EcoPee which translates to 120 home gardens producing an average of 300 grams of vegetables a day.
Furthermore, local families have been successfully oriented to the use of the arborloo toilets. Simply put, arborloo toilets are makeshift portalets designed and strategically positioned to fit the needs of families in the area. Hitting two birds with one stone, this simple yet innovative technique solves the problem of waste disposal for the environment as well teaches the families the value of hygiene to one’s health.
By means ofs “farm, non-farm, and off-farm livelihood projects, training, and networking activities”, ALEY members were able to educate stakeholders on proper hygiene, recycling, and water conservation while adapting to the needs of the community. They showed that, with sufficient research and the right attitude, there isn’t a problem too difficult to take on.
Recognition and Success
ALEY’s hard work does not go unnoticed. Besides besting more than a hundred other contenders as a TAYO 8 National Finalist, the organization is also the recipient of the Gawad Kabataang Agri Pinoy, along with 25,000 pesos, awarded by the Department of Agriculture for their innovative and self-sufficient project on food security.