Hornbill Unleashed

October 7, 2014

Light Up Borneo

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Theheat team

It is an irony. Villagers in Bengoh, Sarawak, are among those who have been displaced by a hydroelectric dam project. Yet, they do not have access to electricity – a basic utility for most Malaysians

But thanks to a group of volunteers, they and thousands of others living in remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak will no longer have to spend their nights in total darkness. Their villages will be equipped with micro hydro generators (MHG) to provide artificial lighting.

Bengoh is an isolated community. To reach the village from Kuching, one has to take an hour’s drive and a six-hour hike.

During the Sarawak state election in 2011, a group of people were sent to the village as election observers. It was then they discovered the plight of the people living in the interior of Sarawak.

Having been displaced by the hydroelectric project and left without access to basic utilities, the villagers asked election observers for help.

Coincidentally, one of them was familiar with MHGs and he agreed to help.

That kicked off an initiative that came to be known as Lightup Borneo. It has since spread across Sarawak to Sabah.

“When we started the project, we did not know that one-third of Sarawak and a quarter of Sabah did not have electricity,” says Lightup Borneo’s founder, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Raising funds for the project was not easy. Two graduates produced a video that they submitted to the Freedom Film Festival and then sold in DVDs, but they managed to raise only RM4,000 – way short of the RM40,000 needed for three MHGs.

It was at the film festival that a few housewives among the audience volunteered to help. They even went to stay in Bengoh for a week. By February 2012, they achieved the RM40,000 target. Two months later, Lightup Borneo installed the three MHGs.

But the effort did not stop at Bengoh. Soon, housewives, fresh graduates, supporters, volunteers, engineers and other individuals chipped in to help raise money for Lightup Borneo.

To date, 18 units of these power generators have been installed. Of these, four have output of 0.5kW each, three of which were installed with the cooperation of the NGO Barefoot Mercy. In Long Pasia, Sabah, is Malaysia’s first floating hydro generator.

Three kilowatts (kW) can light up 15 to 20 houses with three to five LED bulbs in each house. Larger villages need more MHGs.


1 Comment »

  1. The most corrupted and richest thief minister Malaysia ever has is among the richest man in the world today and yet two third of Sarawak do not have clean piped water and electricity after 51 years of forming Malaysia. That was the result of Taib Mahmud’s politics of dibolokment. That was also because for a long while Sarawakians especially the bumiputra were misled into beliving that Taib Mahmud had personally shut the door for Umno to expand to Sarawak when he himself was the proxy for Umno in Sarawak.

    Comment by Mat Som — December 16, 2014 @ 5:28 PM | Reply

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