Philippine's capital, Manila, has been hit by its worst water shortage in years, causing families to wait for hours to fill up their buckets from tanker trucks and some hospitals to limit admission of non-urgent cases, AFP reported on March 15th.
Not a single drop of water is available from four to 20 hours per day in the homes of about half of the Philippine capital's roughly 12 million people due to rolling outages driven by lack of rain and inadequate infrastructure. Authorities are planning to ration water further in the capital as dams and reservoirs reach critical level, due to the El Nino weather phenomenon. Experts forecast it is the worst El Nino dry spell to affect the country as several Asian countries are hit by drought and famine.
Some Manila residents buy their daily ration of water for 1 peso (.03 USD) per plastic container. "I have learned to take a bath using only seven pitchers of water," Ricardo Bergado told AFP as he lined up with his buckets. "I even save the bath water to flush our toilet."
Cans and buckets were flying off store shelves and landing in lines where families were spending hours waiting for deliveries by truck. "Instead of doing important things, our time is consumed now by making sure we have enough water," Bergado, a 57-year-old audio-technician told AFP.
However, Manila Water Company, one of the capital's two suppliers, said it will now use rolling cutoffs spread across the city to share the pain more evenly. At least five public hospitals in the capital have started getting supplementary supplies from water tankers and some of them have started turning less urgent cases away. "This is the worst (water shortage) we have experienced. It almost happened last year but we were saved by heavy rains brought by storms," Dittie Galang, Manila Water communications manager, told AFP.
The government has admitted that the problem of growing demand for water has long been forecast but they failed to address it due to delays in projects that would expand capacity. "We need an alternative water source and we need it yesterday," Patrick Ty, chief of Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, told ABS-CBN television.