GEC and GAB Foundation Empower Communities and Promote River Conservation through W.A.T.E.R Project

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On 1 August 2017, Global Environment Centre (GEC) together with Guinness Anchor Berhad (GAB) Foundation carried out the third annual “Training of Trainers” programme under the W.A.T.E.R (Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation) Project. “Training of Trainers” is part of the River Education Programme aimed at educating the riverside communities of Sungai Penchala on how to safeguard the quality of rivers and by extension, the environment as a whole.

The W.A.T.E.R Project has been made possible thanks to the support of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Selangor/Petaling. The half-day training session saw 20 members of the SS20, Seksyen 14, TTDI, Perumahan Awam Bukit Kiara and Block 1 Desa Mentari communities participate in pollution mapping, river water quality monitoring, community garden visits, used cooking oil recycling initiatives and river address finding activities. Participants were also offered an overview of the W.A.T.E.R Project and a tour of the nearby Desa Mentari residential area to view first hand some of the many initiatives that the community has undertaken to improve the quality of water and optimise water usage including rainwater harvesting, urban gardening, recycling and composting. The event was also supported by MBPJ, DBKL, DOE Selangor, Selangor Town Planning Department and IWK.

Expounding on the collaborative initiative was Renuka Indrarajah, Trustee of GAB Foundation who said: “As a foundation, we aim to spark positive change through impactful initiatives such as the River Care Education Programme, to enrich communities and truly make a difference. We recognise the immensely important role water plays, not only in our daily operations but in the lives of every individual.”

“I am delighted by the enthusiastic response from the members of these communities. We are committed to making the W.A.T.E.R Project a continuing success and will expand the initiative into even more communities in the area over the coming years,” she said.

W.A.T.E.R project is a multiple award-winning project, receiving the Best River Ranger Community Award for two consecutive years at the 2010 and 2011 National Ranger Jamboree.

Initiated in 2015, the Training of Trainers programme is designed to directly engage with communities within the Penchala river basin. The past two years has seen the initiative engage with communities both upstream and downstream of Sungai Penchala. Communities include residents of Desa Mentari, Perumahan Awan Bukit Kiara and Taman Tun Dr. Ismail. This year’s focus is on midstream communities.

River Care Coordinator of GEC, Dr. Kalithasan Kailasam spoke on the importance of the programme: “The Training of Trainers initiative is a vital component of the W.A.T.E.R Project’s River Education Programme to encourage local communities to integrate river conservation and waste management best practices into their daily lives.”

“It is critical to safeguard the water quality of our rivers as 97% of our potable water is sourced from them. While being water wise and practising water saving habits is important, it is equally critical to manage waste correctly to mitigate river pollution. There must be increased efforts by everyone to separate their waste and sustainably manage the waste, particularly used cooking oil to safeguard our water bodies especially rivers,” he added.

The Foundation has invested more than RM6.8 million in the W.A.T.E.R Project since its introduction in 2007, educating and engaging with over 30,000 people to conserve key water sources around the country. Working hand in hand with the government and local authorities, the project has improved the quality of rivers and that of Sungai Penchala which now stands at Class III-IV, capable of acting as an alternative water supply for non-consumption purposes and sustaining aquatic life – a truly commendable feat!

Mr. Selva, community representative of Seksyen 14 testified to the fruitfulness of the entire campaign by offering the following words: “I am glad to have been able to participate in the W.A.T.E.R Project’s Training of Trainers programme. It has opened my eyes to the critical condition of our rivers and enlightened me on just how important their conservation is to maintaining our way of life. Thanks to the programme, I now know the simple yet vital steps that can be taken by all of us to help protect our rivers and I look forward to sharing these learnings with my family, friends and neighbours.”

For further information on the GAB Foundation and the W.A.T.E.R project, please visit http://www.gabfoundation.org/ and www.waterproject.net.my, respectively.