ILOILO CITY, March 10 (PNA) — The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) underscored the impact of its four-year Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) project in Iloilo in Friday’s “close out” activity held in a hotel here attended by representatives from local government units, water districts, academe and other stakeholders.

USAID Philippine director Jeremy Gustafon said that they made significant contributions that are essential inputs to the economic growth, human health, and food security in Iloilo.

He pointed out that they have mobilized and applied USD4.8 million to improve water and sanitation in the city and province of Iloilo.

More than 68,000 people in Iloilo who previously did not have access to water now enjoy potable drinking water. The water demand management program has resulted in the development of rainwater harvesting facilities in communities and the passage of a water efficiency and conservation bill to sustainably manage its fresh water resources.

Also, USAID here has trained 1,088 people for improved water and sanitation practices and 400 people on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

Meanwhile, Gustafon mentioned that they were also able to work with a group of professionals who built solid foundation for addressing environmental challenges and spearheaded initiatives to clean up the Iloilo River and manage watersheds.

“The US government is looking forward to continue its partnership with the Philippines as we look forward to achieve the goal of universal access to water and to keep our shared goals of inclusive growth,” he said.

USAID, during the close out activity, also recognized its partners who made significant contributions to the success of the Be Secure’s works in Iloilo.

Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog expressed appreciation to the USAID Be Secure project, which helped in minimizing the city’s vulnerability to water and sanitation hazards.

“I look forward to sustain these project initiatives so that we could move forward and see tremendous results and can address with confidence our challenge and problem on our water security and to fulfill our goal to see economic growth,” he said.

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. also expressed thanks to USAID as it helped in addressing not only the water problem but other environmental problems in the province.

The USAID Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth and Stability (Be Secure) Project 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.

It focuses on delivering increased sustainable access to water supply and wastewater treatment services and increased resilience to climate-related water stress and hydrologic extremes.

The project started in July 2013 and operates in Basilan, Iloilo, Leyte, Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga Provinces. (PNA)