Remarks by Gloria D. Steele, Mission Director, Water Sector Forum

Monday, June 23, 2014

[As Prepared]

Sec. Rogelio Singson, Mr. Arjun Thapan, Mr. John Miller, Mr. Ramon Alikpala, Ms. Bebet Gozun, business sector leaders, chief executive officers, general managers, ladies and gentlemen: Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

On behalf of USAID, it is my honor to be here with all of you this morning.

While 92% of the Philippine population had access to an improved source of drinking water in 2010, 15.7 million Filipinos are still without access. This shortfall has serious impacts on economic growth, health and the overall development of the country. There are several reasons for inadequate water supply services, including low levels of investment; poverty linked to an inability to afford services; and policy, regulatory and financing barriers.

Lack of financing in the Philippines’ water sector remains one of the most important constraints to achieving total service coverage in the country, and to ensuring that services which are delivered remain sustainable over the long term. While government investment in the sector has increased in recent years, with a particular focus on bringing coverage to “waterless” communities, there is still an enormous gap.

A 2013 World Bank study estimates that an additional Php66 billion is needed from public private partnerships (PPP), commercial banks, and water utility equity to support the required government investment of Php65 billion to improve water supply and sanitation services from 2013-2015. Of the funding requirement for water facilities, the private sector is estimated to cover 15% through PPP. This indicates that there are opportunities for the private sector to play a strong role in addressing water security and sustainability through the financing of projects for expanding water and sanitation infrastructure or improving efficiency of water systems.

The USAID Water and Development Strategy for 2013 to 2018 recognizes the importance of private sector investments in the water sector. Private sector partnerships are highly encouraged under the new strategy as a way to coordinate with new and existing partners and to promote market-based models of service delivery.

I am therefore pleased to be here this morning, at the first Water Sector Forum organized by the USAID Be Secure Project and its partners PBSP and WaterLinks to convene business leaders and the water sector to learn more about opportunities for investment and discuss potential partnerships.

Be Secure is a four-year activity that seeks to promote good governance and build capacity for long-term water security, improve access to water and wastewater treatment services, and build more resilient communities.

The United States Government remains a committed partner to helping the Philippines achieve the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation. We will continue to align our support with the Government of the Philippines, business sector and water sector partners, and we pledge our continued support to helping the Philippines achieve its ultimate goal of universal access to water and sanitation.

Maraming salamat po.

Issuing Country