EWBM x Water4Power Project
Location: Kg Sapit, Sarawak
Community: Remote Bidayuh community
The Issue/ Concern:
Located within Borneo’s interior, next to the rolling mountains that marked the borders of Indonesia, Kg Sapit is a Bidayuh village with 59 households. They are reliant on diesel generators to provide them with the necessary electricity for the night. They utilize electricity for children to do school work, refrigeration for food stuff, and to recharge their handheld devices. With their meager income, purchase of diesel was putting a strain on their savings. Any plans they had for village development was temporarily placed on hold. There was a man raised from the village who met us in the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur who requested our assistance. Meeting with him, there were no doubts in our heads, we were in for an adventure.
How did we helped:
Indigenous people are often one of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in our increasingly globalised world. Electricity supply is considered a basic amenity to most of us in towns and less remote villages but this is absent in significant proportion in Borneo’s vast interior. The cost of diesel is considered very expensive for the very low income community at approximately RM 5 per 1.5L. From our first recce trip to investigate other possible sources of renewable energy, we have concluded that the installation of a micro hydro generator will most definitely lighten the burden of this very low income community consisting of mostly older age groups.
From our recce, we also noticed there were no health support or clinics in the village. The nearest government health centre with visiting medical doctors was located some distance away from the village. The reported common ailments are common cough, cold, diarrhoea and skin diseases. A planned medical check up and health screening was launched during one of our project’s expeditions. With healthcare, we collaborated with the Rural Expeditions Aiding Community Health (REACH) organization.
On the last phase of the project, we had visited Sekolah Kebangsaan Kambug, which was within walking distance from Kg Sapit. This school has around 6 to 8 teachers with basic boarding facility and gravity feed water supply. As the school rarely ever receives visitors, we decided to jump in to engage in fun activities and game. Our volunteers provided classes on basic hygiene and first-aid for the children. Laughter and sheer debauchery was welcomed relief for the tired volunteers who had climbed the slippery slopes of the Sapit hills every single day. Their warm spirits turned to fire as Time froze a story for their memories. To the volunteers, the expedition in the deep interior of Borneo will forever be etched in their hearts. That’s what adventure does we believe, it helps us move forward.
With Kg Sapit being one of our adopted villagers, we will drum up the next stages of community development. The next challenge we need to tackle would be waste management and agriculture system improvements.