Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

We believe that all Malaysians have the right to clean water and we are doing our part to make this a reality. We are working hard to rehabilitate our rivers through our W.A.T.E.R (Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation) project. Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

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. W.A.T.E.R project was represented by its Selangor project community, ‘Sahabat Komuniti Sungai Sg Way’ at the jamboree. The award-winning W.A.T.E.R project is a first-of-its-kind in Malaysia, where we complemented our river rehabilitation efforts with community participation. We further used the rehabilitation effort as a platform to educate and change mind-sets in communities together with government agencies, communities, the private sector and non-governmental organisations.

We took a two-pronged approach to the rehabilitation of Sungei Way: a ‘hard’ approach and a ‘soft’ approach. The ‘hard’ approach covers the physical initiatives directed at the rehabilitation of the river, including the construction of infrastructure and physical improvement plans. The ‘soft’ approach, meanwhile, refers to the activities undertaken to create greater ownership of the river by the various stakeholders. Examples include the setting up of our River Care Education Centre, River Carnivals and the Mobile River Care Unit. The goal of these activities is to change mind-sets and to create greater participation from stakeholders in addressing river issues.

In the first phase of the project, we met our targets and rehabilitated the river we worked on – Sungei Way in Selangor – from a Class IV-V (Extremely Polluted) river to a Class III (Suitable for Living Organisms) river. We also managed to bring life back to the river, which was a great reward for all involved in the work.

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. W.A.T.E.R project was represented by its Selangor project community, ‘Sahabat Komuniti Sungei Sg Way’ at the jamboree.

We have touched the lives of more than 11,000 Malaysians through W.A.T.E.R.’s education and awareness initiatives to date*.

Figures are as at December 31, 2012

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Key Stakeholders
Government Agencies Communities
PJ City Council (MBPJ) Desa Mentari
Department of Environment Desa Ria
Selangor's Department of Fisheries Kampung Lindungan
Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS Malaysia) SS3
Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) SS9/9A
Department of National Integration & Unity Malaysia

Our initiatives in this area have yielded important lessons, which have been compiled in our handbook published in April 2011. The “Handbook on Urban River Management Through Local Community Participation” documents the key learning points and experiences gained from the implementation of the project. We also implemented a number of other projects designed to support our rehabilitation efforts.

These include our:
Mobile River Care Unit
Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

We launched our Mobile River Care Unit (MRCU) in March 2011, with the support of Diageo Foundation, to bring the water conservation message to the communities. The MRCU was formed to expand our engagement and education efforts in hopes of inspiring a larger segment of Malaysians to be more pro-active in helping safeguard our urban rivers.

We strongly believe that changing mind-sets is truly one of the most challenging and important things we can do and the MRCU helps us bring this message to the people where they are.

Specifically, the MRCU helps disseminate information and increase awareness about the issues while sharing river management techniques. The MRCU visits schools and communities to spread its message, which are then expected to conduct a project related to the environment.
River Care Education Centre
Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

GAB Foundation’s River Care Education Centre is a crucial component of our outreach programme, which aims to complement the on-going education and awareness programmes targeted at the community. The Centre houses a number of resource and reference materials including a mini-lab to help conduct basic water quality testing and a rain-water harvesting kit to collect rainwater.

The Education Centre is our way of ensuring that there is always a place for the concerned or the curious to learn more about caring for the river.
River Carnival
Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

Our River Carnivals are our way of educating families and individuals in a fun way while raising awareness about water issues. The first two carnivals held in 2009 and 2010 were organised specifically for Sungei Way Communities. This carnival was expanded in 2012 to extend the project to a larger audience. More than 3,000 people attended our event that was held at Zoo Negara.

Among the highlights of the day were the Young River Scientist Programme where children had the opportunity to be a scientist for a day and learn more about rivers, and the River Hunt, a race requiring teams to complete certain river-related tasks and solve puzzles. At the same time, the younger children were entertained and educated through interactive storytelling sessions, recycle art workshops, face painting and tattoo art.
Storytime with GABBY
Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

It’s never too early to teach children about the importance of water conservation, and young children between the ages of 4 and 10 are at the most impressionable age. By teaching these children the importance of water conservation, we are hoping to inculcate strong environmental values in them.

We worked with child development professionals to build storytelling modules as well as putting together story boards, props and other teaching aids. Our stories incorporate elements of song, dance, theatre and visual art.

Since the start of the programme, we have held over 100 sessions within and outside the Klang Valley, reaching out to over 1,000 children. We have 18 storytellers running the programme so get in touch with us today if you’d like to organise a story session!

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River Rehabilitation Handbook
Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

In April 2011, we developed a River Rehabilitation Handbook which gathered the key learning lessons and experiences of our Sungei Way rehabilitation project. Launched by YB Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Kurup, the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment on April 7, 2011, the handbook was made available for free at public libraries, government agencies and departments, as well as at the head offices of GAB Foundation and Global Environment Centre. An online version is available for the public, while a Bahasa Malaysia edition will be introduced soon.

In July 2011, we organised a training for Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Officials from all over Malaysia on the handbook, with the aim that they would use it for river rehabilitation efforts in their respective states.

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National River Forum
Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R)

On Sept 6, 2012, we organised the National River Forum which created a platform for river experts, decision makers, thought leaders and like-minded individuals to identify challenges facing our local rivers and to share successful case studies from around the world.

The forum was attended by local and international speakers from Australia, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom and Vietnam, who presented insights and case studies from their respective countries. The members also engaged in a panel discussion that openly discussed current and future prospects of sustainable river management practices in Malaysia. We also presented our W.A.T.E.R. project as a case study at this forum.

We believe that it is through the sharing of best practices that we can learn and hopefully, spur on efforts to rehabilitate our rivers.