Project: Microhydro Project, Ulu Papar, Penampang
Date: 27th – 28th May 2015
Number of people benefited: 33 families
Number of volunteers: 10
Impian Sarawak's minor and inaugural involvement in micro-hydro power came through one far-flung project in Kg Pongobonon, Ulu Papar of Penampang, Sabah in January 2015.
The project, however, was in collaboration with Sabah's non-governmental organisation TONIBUNG - Friends of Village Development, which focuses in empowering the rural indigenous communities through rural electrification schemes with the implementation of micro-hydroelectric systems and other renewable resource technologies.
Upon receiving TONIBUNG's partnership invitation, Impian chipped in with the manpower support by recruiting and sending about 12 volunteers into the village to help out its civil construction phase.
The works encompassed the building of a dam – they are usually small just to facilitate the constant flow of water from the source – and a pool, created like a repository with larger capacity for the purpose of diverting and channelling water from the dam so that it can be pumped to the power house to generate electricity and supply power to the homes.
This village was not only remote in location but ranked as among the poorest by any measure and standards, considering that they had previously no refrigerators to store their foodstuff, rice cookers or even light bulbs - there was little 'use' for such house items if there was no electricity to run them in the first place. In fact, the journey going into the village took a few hours on very poor road conditions.
According to an Impian team coordinator, the village comprises 11 to 12 houses, and of Kadazandusun ethnicity. The project's funding was forked out by TONIBUNG through its donations received.
Although the volunteers' timeline for their voluntary service had to end before the system could be fully completed, however, the remaining implementation works was left in the good hands of TONIBUNG.
It is learnt that the system is now operational, running not just the electrical items in their houses like the refrigerators and rice cookers, but also providing that glimmer of light in their lives - these may not seem much to the rest of us, but mean a whole world to the folks here because it signifies an upgrade from their years of hardship and suffering in silence during what appears to be an infinitely dark period when no electricity was in sight.