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Clean power returns to Borneo village
Borneo, the world’s third-largest island, is shared by the nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. It is home to diverse topography, one of the world’s oldest rainforests, and countless endemic species. (Orangutans!) Seacology has worked to protect habitats on the island since 2001, and this summer launched a project in the island’s Malaysian territory for the first time since 2009.
Mangkadait, like many communities on the densely forested, mountainous island, is hours away from any major urban center and relies on rudimentary infrastructure. Our new project there will fund a 10-km gravity-fed pipeline to bring fresh water to the village from a local reservoir, In return, the community will protect 400 acres of forested watershed, ensuring a reliable water supply. Last month, Seacology’s Mary Randolph and Malaysia field representative Chris Wright met with the community’s leaders and found them enthusiastic about the partnership.
Typically, a few community leaders sign a conservation agreement with Seacology. But at Mangkadait village meetings, the community members decided they wanted to show their commitment by having someone from every household sign. In total, more than 100 villagers signed the conservation agreement.
According to the villagers, the new water supply will make a big difference in their daily lives, making cooking and bathing much more convenient. Currently, people must fetch water from a nearby creek. As one woman told Mary, “it’s a great burden, especially to the older people and mothers with young children.”
Mangkadait is one of two projects benefitting from Seacology’s Save an Acre program. For just $40, you can save one acre of this beautiful rainforest. We encourage you to support the project, especially on #GivingTuesday, November 28. (It’s a great gift for the person in your life who cares about the environment–and doesn’t want more stuff!)
We’ve also revisited our 2004 project at Terian, another village in Malaysian Borneo. It’s even more remote than Mangkadait, and can’t get electricity from the grid. With Seacology funding, the community installed a micro-hydro system to provide clean, renewable power, replacing expensive and polluting generators. But a landslide destroyed the pipeline supplying Terian’s generator, so Seacology has agreed to reinvest in the project and replace it. While visiting the site, Chris and Mary met with Adrian “Banie” Lasimbang, our 2004 Seacology Prize winner and a specialist in alternative energy projects. He now runs a program that teaches local people—including in Terian and neighboring communities—to build, operate, and repair microhydro systems.
The village has protected more than a hundred acres of nearby rainforest. Despite infrequent communication with Seacology over the years, Terian’s people have more than kept up their end of the bargain, maintaining the conservation area and even banding together with neighboring villages to defeat plans to build a proposed dam project nearby.