Angele Clark has just completed a 6-month SCI CIDA internship in San Fernando, Philippines. Her blog is a great example of how our interns have shared the load in seeing a project through from conception to completion. Thanks, Angele!
Dallangayan Oeste Barangay Hall, San Fernando, La Union
In 2006 the City of San Fernando, La Union became a member of the Sustainable Cities International Network and their partnership included the addition of interns in the office through the CIDA International Youth Internship Program. The immediate needs within the city were to improve solid waste management and septage facilities, and this is where the time and hard work of the first six interns was focused. A city-wide septage treatment facility project was proposed by USAID-PSA (USAID-Philippine Sanitation Alliance) in 2009 and SCI intern’s involvement with the project began in February, 2010.
The first interns, Firth McEachern and Julian Doczi, really helped the project off its feet by acting as intermediaries between USAID-PSA, Rotary International and the City Environment and Natural Resource Office (City ENRO). They also helped organize the ground-breaking of the site by the Philippine-US Ambassador and the drafting of the amendment to the City’s Sanitation Code to reflect the City’s new septage collection and treatment goals. Meghan Larson and Kate Letzia, the second set of interns, picked up the Septage Management Program where the previous interns left off; among many other duties, they contributed to amending the Sanitation Code for the City of San Fernando and facilitated its approval by both City and Provincial Councils, created outreach packages and organized a campaign to distribute packages to all large and medium commercial establishments in San Fernando and facilitated the approval and finalization of the septage treatment plant design. The third set of interns, Clara Blakelock and Stu Campana, worked on the finalization of the project. They arrived in February 2011, just after the ordinance was amended and the sanitation code was passed. In addition to other accomplishments, they maintained the septage blog created by Firth and Julian, assisted with the necessary financial calculations and helped to create the terms of reference for the desludging contractors.
All of the involved interns had a large role in keeping the lines of communication open between City ENRO, USAID-PSA, and Rotary International. To establish and maintain this communication all of the interns facilitated and/or attended the technical working group meetings and kept the septage blog, the City of San Fernando website and social media updated. A common challenge throughout the process was integrating participatory planning and community input, however all of the interns managed to incorporate their expertise and network building skills into the project. The septage treatment facility was finalized in July, 2011 and therefore the following three interns (including myself) have not been involved in septage management.
However, much to my excitement on March 26th I was invited to attend the inauguration of the septage treatment facility! This is a septage treatment facility which services all 59 barangays (neighborhoods) in the city, is hopefully financially self sustaining, will save citizens a significant amount of money on septage services and will provide healthier and more environmentally sustainable septage treatment for the City of San Fernando. The enthusiasm of the barangay kagawad (councils), local government officials and all attendees at the inauguration was inspiring. All the hard work of so many people was realized and much celebration in the always fun and light hearted Filipino fashion was shared by all.
Firth McEachern, an intern from the first round in 2010 is still currently living, working and studying in San Fernando. On inauguration day he was lucky enough to see his and the other’s groundbreaking work realized with a beautiful facility standing in the place of once just a prospective site. Seeing the successful completion of a long term project SCI has had a hand in creating truly energizes my programs and projects here in San Fernando as well. As a network of individual interns, organizations and local governments there is so much we can learn from each other and build upon together.
The facility will began operation in June, 2011 so the true success has yet to be observed, but with a foundation built upon strong partnerships and informed, experienced contributors I feel confident that the process will be monitored and remaining complications will be effectively worked out.