TONIBUNG, Green Empowerment and Engineers Without Borders travelled on an expedition into the Ulu Papar region in Western Sabah to collect data from various tributaries to the Papar river. Data was collected for use in feasibility studies for micro hydro projects in three isolated, roadless villages, which are off-grid and do not currently have access to electricity, except intermittently from generators. Initial community consultation and discussion about the hydro projects was held with each community.
Hike to Longkogungan
Hike to Longkogungan
The expedition party departed Donggongong travelling towards to the Ulu Papar region and stopped at an inconspicuous sign board which signaled the start of the path to Kampung Longkogungan. The kampung lay 8.2km away over a steep descent mostly through Sabah Park dipterocarp forest. Up to eight hours had been scheduled for this hike, but luckily it was completed in less than half that time. The party passed a simple pipe intake for gravity-fed irrigation of a series of paddy terraces (working well).
The village is picturesque and well-kept, located near to the headwaters of the river Papar. Setting up in the community hall, the party met village women who prepared supper. The village men also arrived, and a consultation and discussion session was held with the community. This covered:
- Micro hydro technology basics
- Sites for MHP
- Management of construction project – materials, resources etc.
- Running and management of MHP – village committee
Concerns include the fact that the village households are spread out over a wide area. On the plus side, two of the villagers had already acquired pico hydro turbines (c. 100W) and were keen to install hydro systems.
Surveys and Kalangaan
The party took pressure and flow measurements at a river in Longkogungan, before travelling to a household on the extreme boundary of the village for lunch. The hospitable householder already had a small unused turbine and a steep river adjacent to the building. The party used the salt-conductivity method to determine the flow available in this river.
Leaving Longkogungan in the afternoon, the party hiked to Kampung Kalangaan. Again discussions were held with the villagers covering similar ground as in Longkogungan. Villagers again seemed keen to get their own renewable energy project off the ground and to participate in training.
Kalangaan to Pongobonon
Measurements were taken in the morning in a rocky stream with a strong flow. Several villagers helped with the survey and were already familiar with the some of the survey equipment. Hiking to a separate property in Kalangaan, the party completed a further survey in a less accessible stream with the help of a villager here.
The party then departed Kalangaan for Pongobonon on a two-hour hike mostly following the swelling Papar, arriving at Kampung Pongobonon in time for a swim in the Papar before a consultation session was held with all the Pongobonon villagers in the local school/ church.
The party completed surveys of two tributaries in Pongobonon. Again the village youngsters helped with surveys. The expedition took a shortcut to Jalan Raya, the road leading to Buayan. This involved a hike along the steep banks of the Papar and across it several times. Several kilometres along this road the party arrived at Buayan and then Tiku for the night.
Wading across the Papar
Following the expedition the party undertook an inspection of the site at Tiku, where a new micro hydro system is currently being installed. The existing micro hydro system at Buayan was also inspected.
All in all the trip was successful and completed in record-time. The Engineers Without Borders, who are new to Sabah, acquired a taste for tapai (rice wine) and an appreciation for the fantastic people and natural environment of Ulu Papar.