MANILA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday whistled the warning siren for water shortage in the Philippines, expressing concerns over impact of freshwater scarcity to sustainable development and health in the country.
WHO said around one in 10 Filipinos has no access to improved water sources.
"Water is an extremely important resource that we cannot live without. But there are Filipinos who are still being left behind in terms of access to improved water sources, especially in rural communities," Gundo Weiler, WHO representative in the Philippines, said in a statement.
In 2016, WHO said one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines was acute watery diarrhea, claiming over 139,000 lives.
Weiler said the situation could worsen as the country is beset by the El Nino phenomenon and climate change that contribute to increase in temperature, drying up water sources. The recent water shortage in Metro Manila also highlights the uncertainty of water access even in the nation's capital, he added.
"Inadequate and intermittent water supply in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country can have serious health consequences. When water is scarce, people are often forced to rely on drinking water sources that may not be safe," Weiler said.
"Individuals can contribute in their own ways to protect their health from the impact of scarce water resources by conserving and recycling water, making sure the water they drink is safe, and covering water sources to protect against contamination and vectors," Bonifacio Magtibay, environmental health technical officer in WHO Philippines, said.
While individual contributions are vital, he said governments still have the obligation to provide safe and reliable drinking water sources for people through long-term solutions.
WHO said it is working with the Philippines' Department of Health and other sector agencies to ensure safe water for all through the development and implementation of water safety planning, strengthening systems and capacity for drinking-water quality surveillance and monitoring, and improvement of water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities.
On Friday, state weather bureau PAGASA or the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, officially declared the end of northeast monsoon and the start of the dry season in the Philippines.
The development means that day-to-day weather across the country will gradually become warmer although isolated thunderstorms are also likely to occur, the weather bureau said.
The bureau warned that the ongoing weak El Nino may result in prolonged dry spell and hotter air temperatures in the coming months.