Summer Expedition 2018: Project Overview

25th June 2018

This summer 100 volunteers from around the world will be joining us to volunteer their time on the final Raleigh Borneo expedition. Each of the projects is aimed at creating sustainable change in the Malaysian Bornean state of Sabah. This summer we will be working within two communities conducting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects, three environmental areas conducting Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects and running two Adventure Leadership projects.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects work with communities in rural Sabah who have limited or no access to a clean, safe and reliable water source, and/or sanitation facilities such as toilets and handwashing stations.

Kampung Mempakad

Kampung Mempakad, located in Northern Sabah, is a relatively large rural community consisting of 38 houses and home to 300 people. Deputy Operations Manager Seb explains, “Currently, the water in the village comes from a source that is an hour walk away. This means they are spending a lot of theoretically productive time sourcing the bare essential water rather than earning money and developing the village.”

Seb continues, “This is Raleigh Borneo’s final and flagship community WASH project. We have located a water source about three kilometres away from the village. We are going to be building a dam there and then laying piping down to the village. The aim is for every house in the village to have access to a tap within a few meters at the very least.”

The project in Kampung Mempakad aims to improve access to sanitation facilities. Seb expands, “At the moment, the village has one toilet however, this is just a dug hole in the ground. Other than this the villagers are openly defecating in the jungle. We are aiming to build three sanitation facilities and introduce hygiene systems such as tippy taps to increase sanitation in the village.”

Kampung Tikalod

Kampung Tikalod, located in the Pitas region of Sabah, involves a four-hour 4×4 off-road drive from the nearest town to the remote mountainous community. The village consists of 11 houses with approximately 60 residents including many young children.

This expedition Raleigh Borneo will be returning to Kampung Tikalod to continue the work of the spring expedition. Laura explains, “It is really important to Raleigh that all of our projects are sustainable. This was a project that we started last expedition. We constructed three toilets and built two large rainwater collection systems. The project scope also included building a gravity fed water system with ram pump technology to ensure the tanks were fill even in times of drought. The system involves gravity pulling the water down and then a device pushing the water back up again. It is our commitment to go back in and finish the work of completing the gravity fed water system.”

This expedition, not only will Raleigh Borneo complete the gravity fed water system, we will also conduct a post project survey and continue running awareness raising sessions. Laura continues, “The expedition last time did a lot of work building up relations. The community are really excited that we are going back to finish the work. It is a testament to Raleigh and to our project partners, AFCS (The Asian Forestry Company Sabah) and Coca Cola, that we are going back in to finish what we started.”

Find out more about the progress of the work in Kampung Tikalod here.

Find out more about what is like to live in Kampung Tikalod as a volunteer here.

Natural Resource Management

Sabah is a globally important ecological area of biodiversity under threat from unsustainable land conversion processes and poaching. Our Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects work within conservation areas in Sabah to help protect and restore the biodiversity and natural habitats.

Danum Valley

Named one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, Danum Valley is 438 square kilometres of 140-million-year-old tropical rainforest. The conservation area is home to a number of iconic Bornean species including orangutans, pygmy elephants and the clouded leopard.

Raleigh Borneo has been assisting with work in Danum Valley since 2011 to aid the progress towards achieving this status. Alongside our project partners Yayasan Sabah and the Danum Valley Field Centre staff work on the suspension bridge will be completed in this final expedition.

Danum Valley, alongside two other conservation areas, is aiming to achieve UNESCO World Heritage Site status in order to protect their land from land conversion and poachers. Programmes Officer Adam J. Young explains, “Being awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status will provide the conservation areas with higher levels of protection and greater access to financial resources to reinforce their buffer zones against the encroachment of plantations and wildlife poaching.”

Adam states, “The reason why we are building a bridge is because it will dramatically improve access towards the research plots in the conservation area. It will also complete a circuit for tourists to visit the site on the Coffin Trail loop. Improved access for tourists and researchers is a criterion for achieving for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.”

Additional to this primary goal, other projects include camera trapping, biodiversity surveying and trail maintenance to the world’s tallest tropical tree.

Find out more about the progress from the spring expedition here.

Learn more about the biodiversity in Danum Valley here.

Tropical Rainforest Conservation Research Centre

The Tropical Rainforest Conservation Research Centre (TRCRC) is an area of land in the East of Sabah which was previously deforested illegally. For the past 20 years, TRCRC have been re-establishing the rainforest by planting pioneering trees. Deputy Operations Manager Seb explains, “They are researching the best way, to not only replant trees, but how to re-grow them. They are looking at the most effective ways to take trees from seeds to pot to ground. There are big learnings happening here about how the rainforest fits together and how important each species of tree is for the health of a rainforest.”

Last expedition volunteers successfully established over 1000 trees and we aim to continue the work this expedition. Seb continues, “Planting trees that have been grown in bags is a lot more complicated than it sounds. If you plant a seed in a certain quality of soil and then replant that seed in a soil that has very different PH levels for example, than the tree can then go into shock because of the difference and the root system doesn’t work. TRCRC is all about making sure the trees have the easiest path to establish themselves.”

Find out more about the work at TRCRC here.

Bengkoka Forest Reserve

Bengkoka is a forest reserve spanning 6,000 square kilometres. The reserve is a water catchment zone making the area ecologically important. Programmes Officer Adam J. Young explains, “As a water catchment zone, lots of water flows through the area. The trees draw the rainfall out of the ground and several rivers and streams distribute it over a much larger area. This makes it not only important for the environment but also for the local communities.”

Adam continues, “In recent years there has been a lot of deforestation, especially along the riverbanks, and it has been replanted with non-native Acacia species which are super thirsty and have pulled out all the water out of the area. The water quality has dipped, the water levels have gone down. This project is all about regenerating the area through replanting.”

Raleigh Borneo will be working alongside project partner AFCS (Asian Forestry Company Sabah) to regenerate the area to improve water quality and levels. Adam proceeds to say, “We will be replanting native fruit species to help to restore the natural ecology of the area and regenerate the water catchment.”

The project at Bengkoka will also involve data collection from biodiversity surveying, mist netting to catch and then release birds, frog catching and insect transects. Adam explains, “all the data collected then forms a report with AFCS which then establishes the conservation value of the area and that has a profound impact on how they then manage it.”

Adventure Leadership

The Adventure Leadership projects fall within Raleigh’s focus on Youth in Civil Society (YiCS). The projects provide volunteers with the opportunity to develop their skills and confidence in leading teams in challenging environments. Deputy Operations Manager Laura explains, “The Adventure Leadership projects provide volunteers with the opportunity with the hope they will then galvanise on their skills and go on to be amazing leaders of the future.”

Crocker Range Trek

The Crocker Range Trek is 16 days of trekking through mountainous Bornean jungle. The group are entirely self-sufficient with the volunteers carrying all of their own personal and group kit including hammocks, tarps, food and equipment. Deputy Operations Manager Laura emphasises, “The group are accompanied by three experienced local guides who really become part of the extended trek family. They are incredibly knowledgeable people who support the volunteers throughout and add another element to the leadership and team development.”

Before the trek team embarks on their journey the team undergo leadership workshops. Laura expands, “Before the ventures go out into the jungle we hone their leadership skills and talk a bit about the theory of leadership. We run a variety of activities to get them in the mind set of what kind of leaders they might be now and what they want to be in the future.”

“Trek is often the phase, once completed, volunteers say they were most surprised of themselves. At the beginning a lot of them think they couldn’t do it. They all do though and they all have a brilliant time.”

Find out more about the Adventure Leadership Trek here.

Adventure Challenge

Adventure Challenge is a shortened version of the Crocker Range Trek for the five-week volunteers. The project entails three tribes competing against one another over a week-long period. The groups undertake a variety of challenges at a different time around the circuit. At the end of the week the tribes come together to see which tribe is most successful.

Similar to the Crocker Range Trek, Laura reiterates, “It is all about developing the volunteers’ leadership skills. It is testing themselves physically and mentally as well as seeing how they come together as a team.”

The specifics of the Adventure Challenge are a close guarded secret which will be revealed once the volunteers are on the project.

Photography by Daniel Buttifant.

Words by Communications Officer Rebecca Raab.


Keep up to date with the progress on each of the projects by subscribing to the blog and following us on Facebook and Instagram.

Contact any of our volunteers by completing the linked contact form. We will pass your messages and words of encouragement on to the volunteers during our project loops.

Related posts