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ISITI-UNIMAS Engage initiates Sustainable Development Model in Long Lamai for Better Living
From Sunday 08 October 2017 -  08:00am
To Sunday 15 October 2017 - 05:00pm
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ISITI-UNIMAS Engage initiated a sustainable development model in Long Lamai from 11 to 13 October 2017 under a NBOS project funded by University Community Transformation Centre, “Program Penambahbaikan Bekalan Air dan Sistem Sanitasi untuk Masyarakat Penan di Long Lamai”, with the assistance by the PALAPES UNIMAS team of 40 personnel headed by Major Razali Abdul Manan. This project, spearheaded by Ir Dr Leonard Lim Lik Pueh and Dr John Phoa Chui Leong, is about the development of an integrated system consisting rainwater harvesting system, dry composting toilet and biochar reactor to enable the sustainable water resource and waste management by the Penan community in Long Lamai. The material used in this project was considered based on the material available in the vicinity of the village, where possible.

The water resource management encompasses the use of rainwater harvesting system, designed by Dr Charles Bong Hin Joo, to increase the volume of water collected in the water tank, especially during the wet season, as well as intervention on the management of water supply for their daily use. This system utilizes about 60% of the total roof area to the water tank, compared to the previous 10%, corresponding to an increase of 6-fold rainwater harvesting rate. This reduces the villagers’ dependency on river water for water supply, issue with sediment in river water (after rain) which can clog the water distribution pipes and insufficient water pressure to supply to houses located on higher ground. The sediment clogging the distribution pipes could also be aggravated ue to their usage of incompatible pipe sizes and fittings to connect from the main water pipe to their respective houses. The use of rainwater harvesting system also addresses the issue of soil erosion along the perimeter of their houses of between 1.5 to 2.0 cm every year due to the impact of rainwater dripping from the edge of the roof. An intervention on the management of water supply for their daily use was conducted to educate the villagers on how to use their water supply efficiently and promote greywater recycling for their farm by their respective houses. The application of greywater from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry would replace some of the water supply for irrigating their farms. This significantly reduces their water demand and help to prolong their usage of water supply in the water tank during the drought period.

The villagers in Long Lamai have been using wet flush toilet system which directs their sewage into an unlined pit. Another facility which can help to reduce their water demand is the dry composting toilet. The use of dry composting toilet, designed by Ir Dr Leonard Lim Lik Pueh, can save up to 90 L per day for a family of three members staying full time in the house (5 flushes/, which can support their water demand for consumption (drinking, cooking and washing dishes and utensils) for up to 3 days. In addition, the dry composting toilet enables the waste management of human faeces and sawdust which is abundant in Long Lamai as all the houses are built using wood. The dry composting toilet converts human faeces to compost which can be used to improve the soil fertility for their respective farms. A composting shed was also constructed for the villagers to gather organic and biomass wastes and some soil to be converted to compost for soil conditioning. Green wastes such as cut vegetable from kitchen, grass cutting and trimming can be mixed with the brown wastes such as dried leaves in a composting shed instead of the traditional practice of being left to decompose in the vicinity of the village.

The waste management also covers the biomass waste as Long Lamai is a predominantly self-reliant, agriculture based village. A biochar reactor, designed and developed by Ir Dr Leonard Lim Lik Pueh, Dr Ivy Tan Ai Wei and Mr Karlvin Jungan, is used to convert biomass waste to biochar. The biomass utilized for the production of biochar are dried bamboo and biomass wastes from lumbering and trimmings from agricultural activities. Biochar can be used as adsorbent for the water treatment, carbon source for soil conditioning and bulking agent for dry composting toilet. The biochar reactor is designed and developed to achieve complete combustion in the chamber, resulting smokeless emission. This reactor can also replace their traditional practice of open burning and improve the safety during burning. 

Among the key milestones achieved in this project is the knowledge transfer to the community on the construction, operation and maintenance of all the facilities through the direct engagement of the community in the construction. This process is important to enable capacity building in which the villagers who learnt in this project can help and guide others to construct these facilities in future. The engagement of the community indicates their enthusiasm for trying out these facilities themselves. Another milestone achieved was notably the completion of all the facilities in three days despite the obstacles encountered from the transportation of material to making the best out of the situation. These milestones were achieved with the assistance by PALAPES UNIMAS.

In addition to the scope of this project, Ir Dr Leonard Lim Lik Pueh is initiating a waste recycling program for rural communities with Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and Local Agenda 21. This waste recycling program aims to encourage the villagers to gather the recycle waste, i.e. aluminum can, metal, paper, glass and plastic, and send to designated collection locations. The recycle wastes will eventually be gathered at Miri Airport and collected by an authorized recycling vendor. The sales of these recycle wastes will be returned to the respective villages for their community development through this program. Some of the villagers have been accumulating the recycle wastes at their respective houses for years but do not know what to do with it. It is hoped that this recycling program will help to develop recycle waste management system in rural villages and be adopted as a community effort by the villagers.

In a nutshell, this integrated system is designed and developed for promoting the sustainable development of a village in remote areas, particularly the water and waste management, which is a necessity for better living especially in remote areas with limited municipal and utility services. It is hoped that the villagers will experience the benefit of these facilities and spread the use of these facilities to other villages in future.