The orang asli in Kampung Sungai Chemperoh of Janda Baik, Pahang have long struggled with access to clean water. Their only source of water is from a hilltop stream that takes a 2km walk from their village. However, the water from the stream is unpurified and contains coliform bacteria that threatens the health of the villagers.
When we arrived at the village, we saw children having fun cycling and chasing each other. The first house we visited had a baby monkey outside of their home and the children were playing with it. When we stepped into the house, a frail looking kitten was covered with a banana leaf, ill from the cold.
Upon chatting with the villagers from home to home, we found that they only had a tea strainer to sieve water impurities with. This shows the great risk the orang asli’s health are in. They are at risk of being infected with waterborne diseases such as cholera, a type of diarrheal disease and other serious illnesses such as Guinea worm disease, typhoid, and dysentery.
Temah, a grandmother, expressed her concern on the murkiness of the water. She said the stream can be extra murky when it rains and can be unsafe for consumption especially for young children and pregnant mothers. She hoped to reduce the risk by storing water whenever the skies turned dark.
For Temah and her family of five, water from the stream is insufficient for her family. Additionally, as they are not able to afford the water bill, they have to minimise their water usage from the pipes. We talked more with Temah on her lifestyle and found out that she cooks the same type of dishes as us such as ayam masak kicap (chicken in soy sauce), fried chicken, fish with soy sauce, and instant noodles. But unlike us, her family is unable to consume the needed amount of water per day. This led to Temah having health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Another similar case is seen in Asip, husband to Aini whom we spoke to on our visit. Aini looked worried when she told us about Asip’s condition. As a farmer, he barely drinks enough water and gets dizziness from time to time. His wages are heavily reliant on the weather and ranges from RM500 to RM1000 per month. Therefore, he tries to reduce his cost of living by reducing his water intake, only relying on water from the stream. Due to the limited amount of water supply from the stream, three out of four family members are diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Being aware of their struggles, Global Peace worked with Deutsche Bank to ease the hardship of the villagers. We decided that it will be most effective to construct a mini dam at the hilltop stream and a piping system connecting the stream to the village.
Making it more convenient for villagers to access their water supply was the first step, however the issue with the water quality remained. In order to provide clean drinking water for the village, 43 LifeStraw water filters were given out to the families.
Kampung Sungai Chemperoh is part of Global Peace’s efforts in uplifting the welfare of communities in need, starting with clean water. Read more about the Communities Unite for Purewater (CUP) initiative here.
Two weeks later, we did a follow-up visit to gain updates on the usage of the filters by visiting each home in the village.
Our visit preceded with the conducting of needs assessments for every home in the village. This will give us a better insight on how we can further empower and uplift this community with Kampung Sungai Chemperoh, in line with our aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by United Nations. So far, we are working on Clean water and Sanitation, which is goal six out of the 17 goals addressed by UN. In the future, we hope to work with more communities in need to advance these goals.
Thanks to our sponsor Deutsche Bank, the CUP project in Janda Baik was a success. 64 orang asli families can now have access to clean drinking water. We hope that this would reduce health risks in the community and improve their quality of life.
Written by Alison Tan, Associate Intern
Edited by Yong Joy Anne, Storyteller