Agencies to work closely towards an integrated watershed management in Sarawak
The coordination and collaboration among these agencies play important role in ensuring that watersheds or river basins are managed sustainably to meet different needs, including conservation of habitat for wildlife.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development and Natural Resources (MUDeNR), Dr Wan Lizozman Wan Omar said different agencies could no longer work in silos for it is crucial to ensure the rivers are used in a sustainable and healthy way when pursuing development.
“Impacts from upstream will accumulate at downstream, affecting the quality of water at lower reaches of the river and activities that are dependent on water,” he said when officiating at the Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) for Power Generation, Water Security and Environmental Sustainability: High Level Briefing and Capacity Building Workshop here recently.
Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) Sarawak in collaboration with Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and WWF-Malaysia held the workshop on 20-21 September 2018.
About 50 participants from key agencies participated in this workshop. Among others they were MUDeNR, Ministry of Utilities Sarawak, Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Sarawak, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research, Drainage and Irrigation Department Sarawak, Public Works Department, Sarawak Forest Department, Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department, Sarawak Planning Unit, Department of Environment, Department of Health, Resident and District Offices, Kuching and Sibu Waterboards, Sarawak Development Institute and United Nations Development Programme Malaysia.
This workshop served as a platform to gain a consensus among leading ministries and set policy direction for IWM in Sarawak. IWM is a continuous adaptive process of managing human activities and ecosystems at the watershed scale. It is a process of coordinating management, development and conservation of water, land and related resources across sectors in the watershed for the benefits of all stakeholders.
It was timely held in conjunction with World Rivers Day, a celebration of the world's waterways on 30 September. World Rivers Day highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world.
Dr Wan Lizozman said water catchments in Sarawak currently cover about eight million hectares, whereas approximately four million hectares has been officially gazetted.
“A large portion of the gazetted catchments are in the Rajang River watershed in central region of Sarawak. The Kapit catchment alone covers an extensive 3.5 million hectares."
“Most of the rivers within gazetted catchments are found to be polluted due to poor land managements. It is hoped that all water catchments, including all proposed water catchments can be gazetted as soon as possible in order to improve the river conditions”, Dr Wan Lizozman also added.
During the plenary discussion, workshop facilitator Mr Thomas Vanderbyl who provided technical expertise, guidance and shared experiences on IWM implementation, said that living rivers, sufficient water, water quality, land uses and risks management are the five key aspects for integrated watershed management in Sarawak, based on the outcomes of the group discussions held earlier.
“Managing a watershed cannot be done independently. Collaboration between multiple agencies isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. With the right goals, approach, clear accountabilities and high commitments, it can be done – and done well,” he added.
During this workshop, WWF-Malaysia held a role play game for the participants aimed at creating better understanding of the watershed and how human activities affect the rivers, both upstream and downstream. It provided insights into how a river’s health will affect the natural resources such as fishes and aquatic life, water security for people and economy, capacity to generate hydroelectric and etc. The game also provided an idea how different agencies could work together to address issues concerning development needs and conservation.
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For more information, please contact:
Communications Officer, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +6082-247 420 Ext. 210
Mohamad Irwan Aman
Senior Manager (Sustainability Division), Sarawak Energy Berhad
Tel: +6082-388 388 Ext: 8816
Tang Hung Huong,
Head of Section (Planning & Development), Natural Resources and Environment Board Sarawak
Tel: +6082-319 542