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Bario Asal and Arur Layun


Conservation benefit: Creation of a permanent 1,483-acre rainforest preserve

Community benefit: Community-based micro-hydro power

Date Approved: 06.2007


This project promotes sustainable energy production, helping reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and slowing global warming.


This project protects forest, preventing the release of greenhouse gases and reducing erosion that damages coastal and ocean ecosystems.

The adjoining villages of Bario Asal and Arur Layun are located in the Bario Highlands plane of Sarawak, in the heart of Borneo. The indigenous Kelabit people are mainly wet rice paddy farmers; to irrigate their fields, they take water from small streams that run close to their longhouses. There are few signs of modern development. Electricity comes from private or village-owned diesel generators.

The two communities requested funding for a micro-hydro system that will provide up to 40 kilowatts of renewable electricity. Micro-hydro energy systems harness energy by using the vertical drop of a small stream. This system will power lights for 50 households, a primary school, secondary school, church, community hall, sundry shops, agro-processing mill, and welding and planning workshops. PACOS Trust will provide training in micro-hydro design, installation, management and maintenance, as well as socioeconomic development training. Through PACOS Trust and the Borneo Project, Seacology has previously funded two micro-hydro systems in Borneo (Long Lawen and Terian).

In return, the communities will establish a 1,483-acre rainforest preserve. They will plant 1,000 fruit and timber tree seedlings in deforested areas within the watershed and along the riverbanks. Their goal is to return the watershed to its original state.

Project Updates

June 2010

The project contact reports that the micro-hydro system has been working well with only another minor disruption due to drought earlier this year (Feb-March). In December 2009 the community, in collaboration with Sarawak Forestry, conducted tree planting through funds from ITTO. The program has successfully planted about 2,000 seedlings from a variety of local tree species. Rehabilitation of the areas damaged during the construction was also done.

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November 2009

The project coordinator reports that the system has been running well without any serious problems. There was a short interruption in operations in June due to a long drought that forced the system to run only 12 hrs a day for two weeks; 24-hour operations resumed in July after the rains came. Since its commissioning the micro-hydro system has replaced 7 diesel generators in the community and displaced the use about 6,000 liters of fossil fuels. The system has saved the community approximately RM 13,200 (USD 4,000) from fuel cost. Additionally, the community has begun watershed rehabilitation and have planted about 1,000 seedlings so far. This process will continue as there are still areas within the watershed area that need replanting. There has been lot of local interest in replicating this system in other rural communities in Sabah and Sarawak. However, there are not yet any concrete policies by the government to adopt this model.

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June 2009

As of April 2009 the project is complete. In January 2009 the installation, testing and commissioning of the turbine was completed. The communities held a simple ceremony in March to mark this historic occasion.

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January 2009

As of August 2008 the project experienced a significant delay due to rising transportation costs, causing all shipments within Malaysia to only ship emergency equipment first before less urgent shipments. In spite of this set-back by November 2008 most materials were transported to the site and construction resumed. The project leaders anticipate that the construction of the system will be finalized in mid-2009.

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May 2008

The project began in February 2008 after all funding was procured. By April 2008 the project was 80% completed in spite of some challenges getting materials transported to the site. The project leaders anticipate that the construction of the system will be finalized at the end of May 2008.

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