How is migration influencing community project work in Borneo?

1st March 2016

This blog briefly looks at how the migration of people from rural to urban environments is influencing the indigenous communities of Sabah, in particular the ethnic group of Dusun based in Kampong Lakang and why Raleigh Borneo is working with them.

Migration is the movement of people to a new area or country. It is often the main process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more people begin living and working in concentrated areas. Urbanisation is concerned with how such communities adapt to and cope with change(1).

The United Nations predicts that by 2050 about 86% of the developed and 64% of the developing world will be urbanised. That is equivalent to approximately 3 billion ‘urbanites’ by 2050, much of which will occur in Africa and Asia(2).

The ethnic group of Dusun in Kampong Lakang are seen to be following this trend. They once made up 40% of the population of Sabah as the largest ethnic group but now only making up about 25% of the total population. They are broken down into more than 30 sub-ethnic or dialectical groups, or tribes, each speaking a slightly different dialect of the Dusunic family language (3).

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Local community members of Kampong Lakang

The Dusun traditionally lived in the hills and upland valleys in the western and middle part of Sabah including Kampong Lakang. Historically they were farmers who primarily used to grow rice as a food crop, trading with the coastal tribes by bringing their agricultural and forest produce (rice and amber) to trade for items like salt and fish(4).

Due to the remote nature of groups like the Dusun they often have limited access to new information and resources from outside of their community which they could use to explore options on how they could grow and economically develop as a village without members of the community feeling the need to migrate. The Dusun in Kampong Lakang have reported increasing migration puts their community heritage, customs and traditions of their ancestors at risk and even the possibility of them being lost.

Raleigh Borneo’s community resilience projects such as Alpha 2 in Kampong Lakang, have been working in Sabah for the last 10 years and have been shown to make a significant impact on benefiting communities. Here at Raleigh Borneo we aim to empower communities through increasing education, skill level and enabling preservation of heritage by supporting the growth of the local economy; in turn appeal to the next generation to stay in their villages giving them more options to develop locally.

Raleigh Borneo’s 16A expedition project group Alpha 2 is working alongside PACOS (Partnership of Community Organisations Sabah) Trust and the Dunsun community of Kampong Lakang to increase their communities resilience through building a Community Learning Centre (CLC).

Alpha two group building the foundations of the CLC
Alpha two group building the foundations of the CLC

This project is being part funded by the Myles Trust which supports charities including Raleigh Borneo to help develop educational facilities in the poorest of developing countries.

This CLC, like others Raleigh and PACOS Trust have built in the past, will not only serve as a kindergarten but also bring the community together as a centre for community engagement, village meetings and will enable the village to collectively come together to discuss village matters and make decisions which affect all of them.

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Venturers working on building the CLC

The PACOS Trust will seek to identify skills that already exist within the Kampong Lakang community (for example boat engine maintenance and entrepreneurial skills) that can be taught to other members in particular younger members of the community through facilitated workshops in the CLC.

The CLC will mean the next generation of Dusun in Kampong Lakang will have more options and opportunities in and around their local area other than migrating to more urban locations. It will help empower and support them in sustaining their heritage and local development for the future.

You can read more from Alpha 2 Venturer Eliot Corcoran on her first impressions of Kampong Lakang and the CLC build when the group were invited to a local church service.

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Looking Ahead
28th February 2016 – The Loop to Alpha Groups 3 and 4
7th March 2016 – Last day of Phase 1
8th March 2016 – Changeover 1
8th March 2016 – International Women’s Day

Remember you can contact anyone on 16A expedition here


Youth Economic Empowerment Malaysian Borneo