Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Kg. Babalitan Micro-Hydro Project Nears Completion

The 5 kilowatt micro-hydro turbine in the Murut village of Kampung Babalitan, Sabah is now installed and up and running.  A few finishing touches remain to be made, including the addition of several more pipes (the Babalitan MHP has two intakes), and the completion of the electrical distribution system.  We expect the system to be fully operational within the month, with the formal launching to be held this October.

After completion, the system will be delivering 24-hour electricity to the homes of Kg. Babalitan's 200 residents.  When power is not needed in the day-time, residents have the option of utilizing the turbine's mechanical energy to power a rice mill that has been integrated with the system.
This project will be the 5th of its kind in the Pensiangan district to have been implemented by local villagers.  These projects have been facilitated by TONIBUNG with support from organizations PACOS Trust, JOAS, Aru Bumi Sabah and Green Empowerment.

5 village-based operators are being trained to maintain and manage the system.  They will be able to perform any basic maintenance and repairs, and will be in communication with TONIBUNG staff after the project has been completed.

The People of Kg. Babalitan put the finishing touches on the 5kilowatt turbine.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Introducing the Long Lamai Micro-Hydro Project

Long Lamai is located in the Ulu Baram area of Sarawak, a rainforest that has been conceded to logging companies for the past twenty years, in spite of protests of the indigenous Kenyah, Kayan, Saban, Punan, Kelabit and Penan tribes that have resided in the area for generations.

The village of Long Lamai houses over 400 sedentary Penan people, who subsist off of rice and forest products such as the sago palm.  Their ancestral rainforest lands have been systematically exploited by the timber company Samling since the late 1990's, but the remaining Penan have managed to adapt to the changing times under the visionary leadership of their young head man, Wilson Bian Belare and his father, Belare Jabu before him.

In partnership with UNIMAS (the University of Malaysia Sarawak), staff and volunteers from TONIBUNG, the Borneo Project and Green Empowerment will be in Long Lamai for the next 3 months to facilitate the construction of a 16 kW micro-hydro power system.  The system will provide the residents of Long Lamai with 24-hour renewable electricity and continue to demonstrate to Malaysia's government and the public that development need not come at the expense of indigenous peoples and the natural environment.  UNIMAS and TONIBUNG have already been working in Long Lamai for several months, constructing a solar-powered village telecenter that enables broadband and telephone access in this remote village.  With renewable power at the telecenter, all that's left is to provide electricity to the 400 village residents.

As with all TONIBUNG projects, the community is at the helm.  TONIBUNG and its partners only play a consultative role in the process, while the locals, who know their forests, rivers and people better than anyone else, are responsible for managing, maintaining, and in large part, building the system.

Stay tuned to this blog for more updates on the Long Lamai Micro-Hydro Project.

Consultation with village and project leaders.

Scouting the lay of the land in preparation for construction of the civil and electrical distribution system.

Long Lamai's residents give their undivided attention at a village meeting.

Garen of Long Lamai discusses the micro-hydro project at the community telecenter.

Johan Sipail of TONIBUNG learns how to play the keringot, the Penan nose flute.
*All photographs courtesy of Sze Ning of Center of Orang Asli Concerns.