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Micro hydro power best rural option: Dompok


Micro hydro power systems which are now supplying round-the-clock electricity to a few remote villages in Sabah may be the answer to lighting up the farthest reaches of the State.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said he had mooted the idea to the Government as the only alternative for villages in rural areas.

"It is because you can't connect every village to the power grid. I'm very happy there are NGOs interested in this. Otherwise, it is something the Government has to do."

Dompok, who is also Penampang MP, said this after launching a 10kw micro hydro powere system for residents of Buayan, a remote community tucked deep in the foothills of the Crocker Range, Monday.

He was responding to Malaysian Environmental NGOs (Mengo) Coordinator (Community-Based Natural Resource Management), Adelaine Tan, who said besides being a renewable energy system it would contribute to the watershed conservation programme in this area.

"This micro hydro system should be emulated in other remote parts of Sabah and Malaysia and our government should seriously consider financial support for this system under the 10th Malaysian Plan," she said.

The micro hydro power system is an integrated system that incorporates renewable energy and watershed conservation as well as rice mill and irrigation system for socio economic development.

At Buayan, villagers who used to depend on fuel-powered generator now get to enjoy uninterrupted power, thanks to the RM450,000 facility which has been up and running since last month.

This will certainly bode well for the farming community of about 30 families, comprising more than 300 people, as they look to improve their lot in the village which is about six hours walk from Donggongon town.

The facility was put up through a gotong-royong effort by the community with organisational and technical support from Partners of Community Organisations or Pacos, local organisation Tonibung and Jaringan Orang asal SeMalaysia (JOAS).

A delighted Dompok had nothing but praise for those involved in the project. "I think it (effort) is very laudable (and) very encouraging to see the working relationship between the people, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and government.

"This is a very do-able project with everyone throwing their weight behind it," he said to reporters who were taken by helicopter to the village.

"Hopefully the residents would continue with the cooperation among themselves and probably the NGOs to ensure this (effort) is continued.

"I think this is working and it is a good thing that the community is getting together to organise themselves, with the help of NGOs and the Government."

Initiated in 2006 following preliminary survey works at the Tomboining River, the system design and full proposal was completed in March 2007 with collaboration from Era Wira Sdn Bhd, a local company promoting alternative technology, and Indonesian-based company specialising in micro-hydro technology, Heksa Hydro.

Through the proposal, a total grant amounting ton RM250, 000 was secured from Danida (Danish International Development Agency) through JOAS, and UNDP Global Environment Facility's (GEF) Small Grant Programme through Tonibung.

The MP and Assistant Finance Minister-cum-Moyog Assemblyman Donald Mojuntin also contributed RM100,000 to the project through various allocations.

The micro hydro site was completed in 2008 through cooperation between the local community and volunteers from Raleigh International.

Pacos Trust President, Dr Felix Tongkul said the Kg Buayan residents were itching to get a micro hydro system ever since their neighbours in Kg Terian, about three hours walk from the village, obtained theirs about four years ago.

Among the problems they faced were funding and getting the villagers to support the project which was not too difficult to do.

"The important thing was whether the community really wanted it and they did (and) they were also supported by nearby villages," he said, calling for continued assistance from NGOs and the government in implementing more community-based projects.

This micro hydro power system is the fifth of its kind supported by Pacos since 2001, with the previous ones implemented at Long Lawen in Belaga, Kg Terian, Kg Bantul in Pensiangan and Bario Asal in Bario.

Publishing House Sdn. Bhd. Penampang

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