Del Monte Foundation, Inc., in partnership with the Del Monte Ladies Civic Association (DELCA), the Local Government Unit of Cabanglasan, and the local barangay, turned over toilet materials to eighty (80) households in Barangay Poblacion in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon on September 21, 2023. The turnover ceremony and signing of the memorandum of agreement held at the Poblacion covered court was graced by the presence of Cabanglasan municipal mayor, Hon. Lolita N. Bullecer, the staff of the Municipal Engineering Office, barangay officials, and the beneficiaries. This project aims to help the barangay in its goal to reach Zero Open Defecation (ZOD). Mayor Bullecer is grateful to Del Monte as, “they not only look out for their business but also for the welfare of the people”. Beneficiaries of the project are among the extremely poor families identified as part of the Zero Extreme Poverty movement or ZEP2030 which Del Monte Foundation leads in Bukidnon.
Each of the eighty households received a toilet bowl, 2 bags of cement, drainage pipes, and sand and gravel for their own toilet facility. Representatives from the Municipal Engineering Office provide technical assistance to the recipients for the construction of the toilet in their homes.
Under Administrative Order 2019-0054, the Department of Health targets all barangays across the country to achieve ZOD status by the year 2025. A ZOD status means that all households are no longer defecating in fields, bushes and bodies of water, and already use toilets. “The Philippines is one of only two countries in Southeast Asia whose current progress is too slow to eliminate open defecation and achieve universal access to basic sanitation by 2030 (UNICEF/WHO JMP, washdata.org). As of 2020, around 7 million Filipinos were still openly defecating or using unimproved toilets (PSA). Households practicing open defecation are mostly found in rural areas…”
The absence of a toilet in the home exposes its family members, as well as the community, to the risk of infection from fecal pollution of food and water. Unsanitary conditions have been associated with the occurrence of infectious diseases; it contributes to stunting and malnutrition in children, as repeated diarrhea and other infections in the gut affect their capacity to absorb the nutrients from the food they eat. Improving sanitation must be the concern of all members of the community.