Marumi tubig.

Posted: October 24, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

(unclean water).

The situation with the hazard of the dead river is a model of Zlolniski’s arguement, that of neoliberal water policies producing water insecurity for the poorest, ultimately placing the state’s own people in danger and denying them the universal human right or clean water.

According to the Water Project “more than 1 in 7 people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water” and “nearly 80% of illness in developing countries is linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.” This being said, I question why leading bodies of water, such as the Pasig River in the Philippines are being disregarded while the people of Manila continue to live in Ghettos literally unsanitary water-front shanties.

The issue is not that the government is turning a blind eye, it is that projects such as the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission are failing to remove and relocate those already living along the river–declared officially ‘dead’ over a decade ago.

The PRRC has gone so far as to declare in 2006 that:

For the first phase of urban renewal, environmental preservation areas will be established along the Pasig River banks and about 10,000 squatter families will be relocated to in-city, medium-rise apartment buildings and near-city house and lot schemes…to improve water quality, a sanitation service, comprising of a septage treatment and disposal facility and a septic tank cleaning service consisting of a fleet of vacuum tanker vehicles will be provided.”

As we can see, clearly the governmental approach is to get a loan (PRRC received 100 million dollars from the Asian Development Bank alone) to “fix” the situation by removing and relocating–NOT educating, remodeling social beliefs or assumptions about standards of living, and then relocating within means of the people as individual families. Many of those living on the banks of the river have lived there for years, have their families living there, but because they are “squatters” it is easier to remove them from the view of the global eye and relocate them to closer inner city slums. Programs, like the Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation is an International Training Network Foundation and is aimed to:

build capacity and awareness of WASH technologies and the opportunities they provide. It is committed to provide technical expertise for improving the WASH situation of communities, households and institutions.  PCWS-ITNF will continue to work with local governments in implementing the political will of pro-poor access to adequate water supply and sanitation services”

Is the issue of those living along the Pasig River of structural violence? or is it moreso an issue of the lack of understanding, that this is a way of life for some dispite the severly poor living conditions? Should we be working around the social structure to implement living conditions or should we just remove the people from their lives because they are living unclean–according to global standards?

more of the dead river…

Zlolniski, Christian. (2011) “Water Flowing North of the Border: Export Agriculture and Water Politics in Rural community in Baja California.” Cultural Anthropology. Vol 26 No 4. 565-588.


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