CEBU, Philippines － A family of five living on a highland in Lahug, Cebu City in Cebu, Philippines waits for the late evening to come to store water. They understand that because of the elevated land, water flow is challenging and water only arrives when neighboring businesses (a laundry shop, a water refilling station, a fast food restaurant, and several eateries) below, by the busy main road, close after dinnertime. This family store water in three barrels, which could last them two days of drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing the dishes.
The difficulty happens when there is no water available at all. In the past week, there was nothing to store for three nights in a row. At the time, in the absence of notice of water interruptions from public utility firm Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), the mother, Nene, had decided to wait. If, on the fourth night, there would still be no water, she would bring out her containers and ask for some from neighbors who have deep well pumps.
Other families are experiencing water scarcity, too. A household in Liloan town competes with neighbors for water when it comes around 7 a.m. Another household living in Cabancalan, Mandaue City complains of lack of water for several days in a row.
The reasons MCWD, which is charged with water supply and distribution in Metro Cebu, usually give in their notices of water interruptions are technical: rehabilitation of wells, replacement of discharge valves, transferring of pipelines, emergency leak repairs, power outage, and high turbidity of supply due to heavy rains. But when one checks these notices posted on the company’s Facebook page, there are alerts from residents about low pressure to no water available for days in other areas not covered by the water interruptions.