FEWER FAMILIES had adequate access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities last year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS).
The 2020 APIS indicates 92.1% of 24.449 million families had access to basic-service level handwashing facilities or handwashing facilities on premises with soap and water last year, down from 92.9% in 2019.
Those with “limited” access, defined as having a handwashing facility on premises without soap and/or water, fell to 3.7% from 4.2% previously.
The PSA said the survey questions related to WASH were done primarily to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG No. 6, which aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
Around 66.7% of families had a handwashing facility in the form of a fixed facility (sinks or taps) in the dwelling unit in 2020, down from 69.9% in 2019. Meanwhile, those with “mobile objects” such as buckets and fixed facilities in yards and plots account for 12.6% (from 13.1%) and 11.3% of households (from 10.7%), respectively.
Those with no access to handwashing facilities made up 4% of all families, up from 2.8% in 2019. In terms of the availability of soap, 87.8% of families had a bar or liquid soap, 37.8% had detergent soap, while 0.6% had “other,” and 0.2% said they used ash, soil, or sand. On the other hand, around 6.7% reported soap to be unavailable, albeit this was down from the previous year’s 14.2%.
In urban areas, 93.3% of families had access to handwashing facilities, compared with 91.1% in rural areas.
Households in Davao Region had the highest share of families with handwashing facilities with limited service in 2020 at 7.9% from 8.1% in 2019. Meanwhile, the highest share of those with no handwashing facilities was Soccsksargen with 10.6% from 9.5% previously.
The survey showed that 97.5% of 25.848 million families had access to an improved source of drinking water, compared with 95.8% of 25.310 million families in the previous survey.
The top three sources of drinking water were water refilling stations from an improved source, which accounted for 47.8% (up from 45.2%) of the total, followed by piped water into dwellings at 20.3% (from 20.4%), and tube wells or boreholes at 9.2% (from 9.7%).
Of the families surveyed, 91.3% said water was always sufficient. For others, it was either that water was “not available from source” (6.4%), “not accessible” (1%), or that it was “too expensive” (0.4%).
Meanwhile, 80.2% of families did not treat their water prior to drinking, higher than 78.8% reported previously.
The report surveyed for sanitation facilities, those defined by the PSA as “designed to hygienically separate excreta from human contact.”
In 2020, 80.4% had improved facilities not shared with other households, slightly down from 81.6% the previous year.
The proportion of families using basic sanitation level services ranged from 39.3% in the BARMM to 87.5% in the Cagayan Valley.
“[T]he deterioration in sanitary conditions can be traced to the economic doldrums precipitated by the pandemic,” said University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Senior Economist Cid L. Terosa in an e-mail.
“It was expected because when economic growth slows down, real per capita income falls and standards of living are compromised,” he added.
Latest government data show economic output declining by 11.5% in the third quarter compared with the annual declines of 0.7% and 16.9% in the first and second quarters, respectively. This brought the total contraction in GDP for the three quarters to 10%.
The government expects the economy to shrink by 8.5-9.5% for 2020.
“Future surveys will most likely show declines in many development indicators since it will take time to recover from the prolonged economic malaise brought about by the pandemic,” Mr. Terosa said, adding the gap between the rich and poor may also widen in this regard.
“[T]he revival of economic growth will turn things around, but it might take time for development indicators to rise back to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman