Road to Tabuk - Rotary Open Endless Opportunities
"Students can focus on their studies because most schools had no water of functional toilets", is a quote from the story about bringing WASH to four schools and six communities in the Philippines.
Two host clubs, one international club, with the support of their district and The Rotary Foundation were able to to deliver significant water, sanitation and hygiene to this community, despite two super typhoons. 
The Road to Tabuk- Rotary Open Endless Opportunities
By Ruth Carlos Martinez, Rotary Club of Melbourne
It is 34 degrees as the small plane flew over the Cordillera Ranges, Northern Philippines situated between the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.  So remote and rugged, the topography of landlocked Kalinga Province has an elevation of 8,200 ft, where rice terraces and villages weave around the countryside. 78% belong to six ethnic indigenous tribes, with five languages spoken.
Who would have thought, that with the abundance of rainwater and natural vegetation, 12 out of 100 households are “waterless” and  52 % have no access to sanitary toilets? It is monsoon season, and as the small jeep traversed through the muddy roads, I see children walking through the midday sun, doing a balancing act of tin buckets of water across their shoulders. Children collect water from streams from 4 am, and after school at 5 pm, at times missing school and homework.
A call for “Rotary help”, to bring clean water to the villagers, brought me here. The barangay tribal leader led our review party to a dilapidated room, of the elementary school.
Who would have thought, the need for water, will raise the issue of literacy?Residents drinking from a murky water
The community’s water came from streams, mountains and the Chico River, fed into the aquifer. I sighted a well in disrepair, which had run dry, as the water depleted gradually.  With the lack of clean water, sanitation and diseases were an issue,  with numerous skin lesions, and gastroenteritis, affecting adults and children alike.  Children cannot focus on their studies because most schools had no water or functional toilets but attend to filling containers for their families’ water needs. From a high-level perspective, the problems do not stop at lack of water. Education is compromised.
Never has it been truer that, "Rotary Opens Opportunities."
From the 14 barangay villages, it was a juggling act identifying the recipient villages but zeroed it down to the “ poorest of the poor” being  Laya West, Nambucayan, Guilayon, a Special Education school in Tabuk and Cudal.  
Now for the immediate tasks: defining accountability and sustainability, compliance, risks management and inviting stakeholders.  As an international partner, the role of coordinator requires tact, patience and resilience on defining the tasks needed to reach the desired measurable outcomes, but, along with the rules of Rotary Foundation.
After six months of assessments, plan and redesign, Rotary Foundation was presented with a global grant proposal of $46,000, with two Host Rotary Clubs, one International Rotary Club, and District 9800 as partners, signed Memorandum of Understandings from the local government (LGU) of Tabuk as cooperating organisation, supported by 5  village associations and the provincial Dept of Health (DOH). Provision of clean water to schools and villages cluster water stations will reach the rural health care facilities in the villages. DOH as a partner, is a win-win, as provincial DOH control and monitor the regular water tests and purification. LGU Tabuk was called to be a major financial stakeholder, as it is my belief that accountability rests ultimately with the infrastructure provider – the local government.
Nevertheless, Rotary Club of Melbourne became the international partner and on  Feb 20, 2018, was awarded a The Rotary Foundation global grant, with joint Host Clubs of  Tabuk and Meycauayan Uptown.  
Implementation issues include but not limited to: cultural beliefs delayed the work (water-table aquifer is dictated not by climate change but by a sacrificial offering to the Spirits); impassable roads made the delivery of materials difficult; the majority of work is manual labour and came by foot; sourcing of clean water with the right depth; mudslides; intensive documented training on sanitation and hygiene; and recurring typhoons.
After 13 months of construction, on May 2, 2020, six villages and four elementary schools;  total recipients of  6,807 (4,556 residents and 2,251 schoolchildren) received  2 elevated tanks, 3  wells, 3 intake tanks, 6 reservoir tanks, 5 water distribution pipeline, 15 tap stands,  six toilets and 18  school washstands, and sanitation and hygiene training to the 6 villages.
Have I said Rotary Opens Opportunities?   During the construction, two super typhoons, Ompong on Oct 11, 2020 and Rosita on Oct 30, ravaged and inundated with heavy mudslides and flooding the nearby village of Tanudan. Lubo  School was covered with water and the only toilet was swept. Disaster aid and poverty alleviation were given priority, which necessitated Melbourne Rotary with Donations in Kind’s progressive shipments of medical, household building supplies and personal care in cargo totalling the size of a 20ft container to the mountains. Livelihood was augmented with donations of seeds from Australia for crop propagation at Guilayon Elementary School.  With an extension of WASH, Lubo School on devastated Tanudan village received a piped clean water, toilets and WASH stands from the contingency funds of the global grant.
The Tabuk Kalinga Water and Sanitation Hygiene Project clearly demonstrates how more than ever Rotary is important to the world.  With collaboration, Rotarians from clubs and countries far and near can work together and deliver endless opportunities of service, heading towards a sustainable and better future.