Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay, Regional Director of the Department of Science and Technology-MIMAROPA (DOST-MIMAROPA), has won the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) Innovation Award (BIA) for Government Service category for its excellent leadership in advancing water security in the MIMAROPA region.
The award was virtually presented by the BCYF at the 2021 BCYF Innovation Awards last July 23, 2021.
Abilay was recognized for her smart decisions in bringing innovative water technology solutions to overcome water scarcity in the region, particularly to the hardly affected Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA). These communities have long struggled with the lack of access to safe water for drinking, sanitation, cooking, and growing food, creating a knock-on effect on their health and development.
“The impacts of water scarcity affect families and their communities far beyond the stories we hear and see. Without easily accessible basic water services, our people’s true potential to be productive citizens are limited, and they can become trapped in poverty for generations,” explained Abilay.
To address this problem, DOST-MIMAROPA, through her leadership, has provided GIDA communities with water technologies, including Solar-Powered Water Pumping, Purification and Filtration Systems, Rainwater Collector/Harvester with Filtration System, and Water Desalination.
There are already ten communities, more than 1,900 households, or 9,500 individuals in the region who have benefited from the agency’s interventions. Some of these communities have saved about P91,000 per month, equivalent to the transport cost of having their daily water requirement for domestic consumption delivered.
She stressed that ensuring clean, safe, and affordable water for all is a critical tool to break the cycle of poverty. “When a community gains access to clean water, more time will be spent to focus on education and livelihood, and people are free from water-borne diseases,” she said.
She also added that DOST-MIMAROPA is now working towards scaling up its interventions to provide appropriate innovative water technologies to more people and communities in the region. She said that the agency has partnered with the Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Malaysia and Palawan State University to conduct a research and development (R&D) optimization project on Photovoltaic (PV)-assisted Solar Desalination System to explore the possibility of using local and low-cost parts well-suited for small island communities and coastal areas.
“To drive greater impact, we made sure to work with the local government units, academe, and even local and international organizations to combine our areas of expertise,” she said.
In 2017, Abilay was also one of the finalists for the award for promoting the Solar Energy System to enhance healthcare services while mitigating the impacts of climate change in the region.
The BCYF Innovation Awards aims to recognize organizations and individuals in the areas of government service, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), education, technology, and industry, which have made a difference in the lives of others through innovations. It is part of BCYF’s Comprehensive Social Development Program, which consists of research, education, events, and developmental social enterprise.
“Being recognized by BCYF, I hope that this can further inspire other organizations, particularly government agencies, to instill deeper involvement in innovation in serving the people,” she said.