Newcastle University Engineers return to Sabah to build community resilience

26th March 2014

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After the success of last year’s project, Newcastle University has sent a second party of engineering students to work with Raleigh International on vital projects in rural Northern Borneo. The two groups share a common goal: to build community resilience in marginalised communities that lack basic amenities. This will also be the second time the university will work on project with the Asian Forestry Company – which has a long-standing relationship with Raleigh International. This relationship has endured because of the shared understanding that if these projects are to be sustainable, community involvement and ownership are of paramount importance.

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On Sunday evening, the engineers took their first steps onto Sabah soil, arriving in the evening after a long journey to be greeted by their advance Raleigh project management team.  Following a good night’s sleep, they headed to Raleigh base camp to prepare for deployment with a full project debrief, and ,of course, followed by their first night in a basha sleeping under the stars.

Charlie One

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Charlie Two

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Life-changing projects

The aim of the project is to construct Gravity-fed Water Systems (GFWS) to supply running water to the communities in two villages: Tinagu and Bom Bom Satu. The project responsibilities are split between two Charlie groups with Charlie ‘One’ and ‘Two’ overseeing work in Bom Bom Satu and Tinagu respectively.

In Tinagu, there is an existing GFWS in the village but the dam site for this system it is no longer a viable source of water.  The proposed new dam site is 500m from the community at an elevation of 310m.  Two water storage tanks will need to be installed to build up a reserve of water and manage the pressure of the system.  Two possible sites have been identified for this approximately 50m from the dam itself at elevations of 308m and 300m. The group will need to construct the dam, build a concrete platform to house the two water storage tanks, pipe the water down to the village and install taps for 15 houses over a distance of 1.5km.

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Samparita, is a large village with roughly 100 houses and 500 inhabitants is situated approximately 3km down the road from Kg Tinagu.  There is a community centre and large school here so there may be an opportunity to engage in teaching- possibly introducing the WASH programme to increase the health and hygiene awareness of students.

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In Kg Bom Bom Satu, there is an existing GFWS in the village which was built nine years ago but this now needs replacing as it is inefficient and doesn’t supply all the necessary houses.  There are two proposed new dam sites which are both approximately 300m from the community at elevations of 230m and 220m.  Two water storage tanks will need to be installed to build up a reserve of water and manage the pressure of the system.  Two possible sites have been identified for this at elevations of 210m and 205m. The group will need to construct the dam, build a concrete platform to house the two water storage tanks, pipe the water down to the village and install taps for 15 houses over a distance of 1km.
 
All of the site assessments were completed with the Asian Forestry Company.

Commenting on the project commencement, Raleigh Borneo country director, Mac said:

“This is a fantastic synergy between groups who bring a wealth of experience, local knowledge and technical skill. This is an ambitious exciting project; and we all hope to build on last’s year’s success. It is also a complement to Raleigh’s previous and on-going work in Borneo.

“The essential work undertaken will deliver the most basic of amenities: water – lifeblood to any community. Water usage in these villages is currently a time-consuming and unsafe process – a clean and accessible water source will transform the lives of the villagers. For the engineers, it allows them apply the lecture hall to a real life challenging project, but it also gives them an opportunity to work on a sustainable development  initiative that will have a profound effect on the lives of those living in marginalized communities.”