Borneo

WASH-ing in the jungle

11th October 2017

Alpha One (Rebecca, Nick, Emma, and our honorary member, Larysa the Raleigh photographer) recently spent three days in Kampung Buruni, the site of Raleigh Borneo’s WASH project (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) for Expedition 17M. The team were on their Project Planning Visit, an opportunity for them to meet the community and project partners, and familiarise themselves with the task ahead before returning with a full cohort of venturers.

In Kampung Burini Raleigh volunteers will be working closely with the community to understand their needs and then work collaboratively to build a gravity fed water system and tandas units. They will also be working to establish a WASH maintenance committee and conduct awareness raising sessions for members of the community on basic hygiene practices.

One of Raleigh’s objectives is to improve access to clean, safe water and sanitation facilities. Our water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes ensure that communities are well-educated on suitable hygiene practices. Raleigh International works with project partners in Malaysian Borneo to deliver WASH programmes in communities and schools in rural areas. This results in better health and lower child mortality, increased productivity, less time spent collecting water and increased education and occupational attendance.

Read on to hear more from Kampung Burini as Rebecca reflects on her time in the community.

Rebecca near the site of the dam
Rebecca near the site of the dam

Life in the village

The village has about 40 houses and it straddles a gravel road that winds up through the jungle to a granite quarry.  Our accommodation is on a hillside looking out across a steep valley towards a heavily wooded peak where mist swirls every morning and evening.

Access to water varies hugely between different houses in the village, and no supply is both safe and reliable.  Raleigh aims to change that with support from our donors and PACOS, our project partners.  Currently the village has a government water supply, but we were told that the pipes carry “just air” (not to be confused with the Malay word ‘air’, which means water!)  Some houses pump water from wells, but these often dry up.  Others have no taps at all and are forced to use water from the river, even though they believe it is polluted by pesticides from the palm oil plantation upstream.

The community’s access to toilets in Kampung Buruni is just as varied as their access to water.  Some houses have their own indoor toilet, some use a shared outdoor toilet, and others have no access to toilets at all.  We were shown around the village to see where we’ll be building three new tandas.   As we approached one particularly distant group of houses, faint traditional music floated up the path and we were greeted by twin boys bursting to meet us and try out their English.  Toilets might not be the most glamorous subject, but these families are certainly excited to be getting their own!

Project aims

On our second morning, we set off through the jungle to visit the site for our gravity-fed water system.  The plan is to build a dam just below a beautiful waterfall deep in the jungle, then lay pipes down to the village via two large water storage tanks.  Every house in the village will be connected to the system, providing a safe and reliable water supply.  The route was tough going, especially in the Borneo heat! We were led by the local guides, some of whom were wearing flip flops – we were struggling not to slip in our walking boots!  We also took regular GPS readings to make sure the dam site is at a sufficiently higher elevation than the storage tanks.

Rebecca taking GPS readings
Rebecca taking GPS readings

In addition to the construction of the gravity-fed water system and the toilets, the team will be working on a few other outputs. One of these will be a baseline survey of all the households, so that Raleigh Borneo has data on the community’s current health and hygiene practices. The longer-term impacts of Alpha One’s work in Kampung Buruni can then be measured, and it will also help inform the content of the awareness raising sessions the team will look to coordinate later in the expedition.

The team will also be conducting a mapping exercise of the community. As well as being a great way to collaborate with some of the community members, it will provide a comprehensive map of the assets in Kampung Buruni and highlight their natural resources and any potential hazards.

Everyone we spoke to is very excited about the improvements Raleigh’s project will make to their lives. We’re looking forward to getting stuck into the construction work and be part of a sustainable positive impact in Kampung Buruni.

Words by Rebecca, supporting words by Florence. Photos by Larysa and Rebecca.

Up next:

11 October – Venturers arrive

16 October – Phase 1 deploys to projects

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