Friday, October 21, 2011

Bank brightens lives of 200 with hydropower

By Kristy Inus

PENSIANGAN: It used to be annoying for pupils in the remote Kampung Nabawan, near here, to study as they were disturbed by the sound but the noisy generators have since been replaced.About 200 people from 25 homes here can now lead brighter lives thanks to a 3kW micro hydropower generator.Located about five hours' drive from Kota Kinabalu and an hour's boat ride, the riverine village has become the latest remote area in the district to be powered with renewable energy.This is the result of a successful collaboration between the non-governmental organisations, corporate sector and the rural communities there.

The RM89,000 project was funded by CIMB Bank through the CIMB Foundation that channels grants to projects under its Community Link initiative.The project took 10 months to complete in a gotong-royong manner by community members, who received technical support from indigenous people-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), namely Tonibung, the Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Joas) and Pacos Trust.

Nabawan assemblyman Datuk Bobbey Suan said one of the immediate beneficiaries of the project were children."They can now enjoy a more conducive environment at home to study under better lighting and without the annoying loud noise of a diesel-powered generator set," said Bobbey, who is also Sabah assistant minister of agriculture and food industry, during the launch of the programme.

Project coordinator Adrian Lasimbang said having renewable energy as their source of power had relieved villagers of a heavy financial burden.Previously, they were generating electricity to their homes using generator sets with fuel costs between RM200-RM300 monthly, which was rather an expensive amount for a community of traditional fishermen and farmers."Now, instead of spending money on fuel, they can generate some extra income."Renewable power allows them to keep their fish fresh. They can now fetch a higher price at the local market," said Adrian, who is also the climate change workgroup expert in Joas.

Adrian was previously involved in the setting up of micro hydropower system in three other communities along the Pensiangan River -- namely at Kampung Bantul, Lumpagas and Inakaak.He hopes to replicate similar projects in areas still too remote from the power grid.To date, only about 30 per cent of areas in Pensiangan district is connected to the electricity grid.

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Copyright 2011 New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) BerhadAll Rights Reserved

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