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Mangkadait Village


Conservation benefit: Protection of 400-acre forest watershed for 20 years

Community benefit: Installation of 10-kilometer, gravity-fed pipe to provide clean water supply

Date Approved: 06.2017


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

Borneo is a marvel of biodiversity. Scientists have identified more than 15,000 plant species and are cataloging more all the time. There are more than 200 species of mammals, including the orangutan, pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, and many more. An astonishing 420 bird species, 37 of them endemic, are found there.

The village of Mangkadait sits in the shadow of 13,435-foot Mount Kinabalu, in northern Borneo. Most villagers make a subsistence living by growing rice in flat spots around the village.

A nearly pristine 400-acre rainforest near the village is both the watershed for a reservoir several miles away and a sacred place for the communities. Community members have agreed to protect the forest, which will prevent encroachment of oil palm plantations that destroy biodiversity. The community’s agreement is the first step toward getting the government to deem the area an Indigenous Community Conservation Area. That designation would provide protection from outside commercial interests.

The current water supply system cannot meet the community’s needs; for up to a month each year, there is no water at all. A Seacology grant will fund a pipe from the reservoir, which will deliver clean water to the village year-round. Community members will provide most of the labor to install the 10-kilometer pipe. They will maintain it by collecting the equivalent of 20 cents from each household to create a fund for small repairs.

Our nonprofit partner will be the PACOS Trust, which has worked with Sabah communities for more than 25 years.

Project Updates

May 2018

The water pipes have been installed, and clean water is flowing from the reservoir to the village. The residents plan to hold an “officiating ceremony” soon.

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January 2018

The intensity of this year’s rainy season in Sabah, which started in October, has meant that progress with the construction has been slow. Still, much has been done. Community members cleared a path through the forest for the water pipes, which have now arrived. Construction is planned to begin in January, weather allowing. The new water system should be officially launched in February. Community members have also worked on mapping the forest and putting up signs to demarcate the protected area.

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