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.

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