Minihydro power for fourth remote village


PENSIANGAN: Kampung Saliman has become the latest remote village in the district to be lit up by renewable energy from a microhydro facility.

The 3KW facility that was launched last week provides power supply to about 25 homes in the riverine village of more than 200 people.

The village is the fourth along the Pensiangan River to enjoy power supply from microhydro systems, the others being Kampung Bantul, Lumpagas and Inaakak.

The life-changing development is a result of collaboration between non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the corporate sector and rural communities.

The RM89,000 project was funded by CIMB Bank, through CIMB Foundation, that channels grants to projects under its Community Link initiative.

The project, which took ten months to complete, was carried out on a ‘gotong royong’ basis by community members with technical support from indigenous people’s NGOs, namely Tonibung, Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia and Pacos Trust.

Nabawan assemblyman Datuk Bobbey Suan acknowledged the fruitful collaboration which he described as a “classic case of a good relationship between NGOs and the corporate sector”.

He urged the government to give its fair share of support.

“The government has to work with NGOs to bring sustainable development in the rural areas because NGOs have the technical expertise and the right people to implement a project successfully,” he said.

“This project is a classic case of a good relationship between NGOs and the corporate sector,” he said when officiating at the launch of the system last Friday.

Also present were CIMB Bank representatives, Pensiangan assistant district officer and project coordinator Adrian Lasimbang.

Bobbey, who is also the Assistant Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry, believes that one of the immediate beneficiaries of the project are children who can now enjoy a home environment that is more conducive to do revisions with better lighting and without the irritating loud noise of diesel-powered generator sets.

Meanwhile, Adrian said the renewable energy has relieved villagers of a heavy financial burden.

He said they had been relying on generator sets that cost them RM200-RM300 monthly, which is burdensome for a community of traditional fishermen and farmers.

“Now, instead of having to spend such amount on fuel, they can generate some extra income. Renewable power allows them to keep their fish and game fresh. And with freshness they can fetch a higher price when they sell it at the local market,” he said.

Adrian, whose community-based microhydro projects have won several awards, including the Asean Energy Award a few years ago, stressed that the benefits extend beyond the confines of people’s immediate needs.

He said the project also contributes to environmental conservation as watersheds are a key component of a working microhydro system.

“The bigger picture is that they will now take care of the forest that gives them not only food but also energy. What they do at the community level contributes to addressing climate change issues.”

Adrian hopes that with the latest success of microhydro installation in the rural community, he could replicate similar projects in areas still too remote from the grid.

But he says he needs all the support he can get both from the corporate sector and government.

To date, only about 30 per cent of areas in Pensiangan district is connected to the grid.