Most Malaysians take their supply of running water for granted but many villagers in the remote parts of Sabah do not have that luxury. For them, having fresh water requires an ardous daily journey that involves trekking for up to several hours.

One example is Kg. Tongou and Kg. Tudan in Ranau where people depend on rainwater for their supply or carry large vessels of water from distant sources. Thanks to the Raleigh International volunteers however, the two villages can now access water more conveniently from a gravity feed water system.

The project was made possible as a result of a collaboration between Raleigh International and the Coca Cola Company. Raleigh's country director for Malaysia, Jim Clements told the New Sabah Times recently that the communities were often forced to get their supply from polluted rivers but with the newly installed system they can be assured of a more reliable source and supply. The gravity feed water system gets its supply from unpolluted springs high up in the mountains. Jim explained that the installation of the system was preceded with a detailed survey of the villages and surrounding areas to ascertain where the pipe network would be placed and determine a suitable source.

In Kg. Tudan, the water comes from two separate sources while in Kg. Tongou it is collected from just one source. The springs are generally several kilometres away from the villages and are in hard to reach areas. Once a source has been identified, it is dammed up using wire cages filled with rocks and cement.

The pipes are then laid to several reservoir tanks that enable a head of pressure to be established and to cope during periods of high demand. From these tanks, the pipes lead into the villages and the work usually involves digging the pipes into shallow trenches to avoid damage. Finally, connectors and taps are installed to provide the communities with an efficient supply of water.

"During the whole process, the villagers assisted us with the work and are taught how to maintain the system so they can have a sustainable supply of water," said Clements.

The construction took volunteers three weeks to complete and was financed by the Coca Cola Company.

"This project didn't just involve repairing an old system. Half the community had no water supply at all. Without the money for the equipment, we simply would not have been able to complete the job," said Raleigh's project manager for Kg. Tudan, Andrew Cottril.

The Coca-Cola Company has committed RM140,000 to Raleigh projects in Sabah that have benefited 10,000 people. It has pledged another US$41,000 for the next two years to implement more water projects for rural communities.

Coca-Cola Malaysia's public affairs and communication director, Mohamed kdri Mohamed Taib also visited the two villages.

By Jenne Lajiun
New Sabah Times
Kota Kinabalu