When typhoon Rai struck the Visayas region of the Philippines in December 2021, it was category 5 with winds up to 180mph. The whole region was left without electricity, communications, water, and other key infrastructure. Initial government efforts had to be focused on restoring services to mainland cities and towns, but this left the smaller islands with significant challenges.
These smaller islands rely on rain collected from rooftops for their primary water supply. Since many of the roofs were destroyed, there was no way to collect rain water. Their usual backup supply would be water shipped across from the larger island. Since there was no spare water on the mainland, and most boats that would carry it were damaged, this left water access problems on these smaller islands.
Justin Paul Neri, Marken Aboitiz and Antonio Aboitiz from the island of Cebu are boating enthusiasts who frequently visit these smaller islands in the region. They are involved with the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc (RAFI) and learned that the most pressing needs were water. RAFI is an organisation specilising in outreach programmes, including relief missions during disasters. They could direct this group to the islands in most need of immediate assistance.
This group of friends pulled together all the portable desalination capacity they could gather and loaded them on Marken’s Lagoon 64 Powercat. The systems consisted of two cased 230VAC Rainmans, two DIY systems and the boat’s house Rainman watermaker. Running three separate two-day missions, support went to the six islands of Mocaboc, Bagumbanwa, Cuaming, Caubian, Nocnocan, and Cataban between Cebu and Bohol. Over the course of two weeks, they provided approximately 30,000 litres of potable water to supply almost 1200 families. After the third trip, the government efforts were able to restore sufficient water supply to these smaller islands.