6 May 2016

Water pollution and illness in the Philippines

Kelly writes:*

Water pollution has become a rising concern for todays world, especially with rapid increases in population, urbanization and industrialization. Thus, methods to control this situation must be set in place, however, this is rather difficult as oceans and large bodies of water are not owned by an individual entity; making it hard to control and manage the amount of pollution released.

Pollution comes in the forms of raw sewage, detergents, fertilizer, heavy metals, chemical products, oils and solid wastes, hereby resulting in 22.2 million metric tons of organic pollution annually, thus the country urgently needs methods to control the pollution. Especially considering the fact that 50 out of the 421 rivers are considered biologically dead, in addition to only 47% of the 127 freshwater rivers contain good water quality.

Due to the lack of freshwater and the majority of bodies of water being infected, causing an outbreak in many disease-causing bacteria and viruses resulting in health outbreaks and increase in death rates, including economic costs of P67 (€1.25) billion for health, fisheries production and tourism. Some of the known diseases caused by poor water include gastro-enteritis, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, and severe acute respiratory syndrome. Whereby one of the reasons may be due to the fact that only 6 out of 115 Philippine cities have sewerage systems. However, the awareness of the situation is still low, which is reflected in low willingness-to-pay for connection to a sewerage system.

Thus, although the Philippines has several laws regarding water pollution, including the Clean Water Act implemented in 2004, the lack of enforcement is of great concern, in addition to problems such as inadequate resources, poor database, and weak cooperation among different agencies and Local Government Units.

Bottom Line The Philippines needs to increase the awareness regarding the improvement of sanitation and water pollution to reduce illnesses caused by water-born sources, and act upon implementing these solutions (such as expanding sewerage collection and treatment) since 31% of illnesses are caused by water born diseases.

* Please comment on these posts from my environmental economics students, to help them with unclear analysis, alternative perspectives, better data, etc.