Friday, 19 June 2009

Project Managers are in the house!

The Field Base got much cosier last Friday with the arrival of 12 fresh-faced project managers and an extra medic. Everybody was suitably jetlagged, however all appeared extremely enthusiastic and roaring to get into the swing of things, like any good project manager would.

After a warm welcome from the Field Base staff, the team were given a tour around their temporary new home, which included such vital survival elements as the three-bowl system (for making sure plates, cups, and cutlery are clean and safe to use) and the honesty fridge loaded with cold drinks and chocolate.

Project managers (PMs) will stay at the Base until July 3, preparing for the arrival of their venturer teams, who they will lead on various projects around Sabah. First serious bit of training PMs go through is TAC (Traverse Adventure Centre) training, so that they know how to survive in the jungle.

Niall Holland (Logistics) is taking PMs through the intricacies of a three-bowl washing system. Left to right: Bobby Rebeiro, Leon Warner, Niall Holland (FB staff), Tom Godfrey, Miles Bullock, Sarah Young (FB staff), Tony Adamson, Ruth Taylor.

"We don't miss a beat: bright-eyed PMs are explained the daily break-down of the ten-week expedition." Left to right: Chris Ashford, Ruth Taylor, Miles Bullock, Tom Godfrey, Colin Burman, Bobby Rebeiro, Sophia Wilson, Susan Howe, Leon Warner, Pip Edwards, Sandra Pitroipa, Tony Adamson.

"How you doin?!": Leon Warner, Chris Ashford, and Sarah Young

Mac MacCarthy is happy to see the arrival of fresh, unsuspecting victims for his "what song/movie is this line from" quiz.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Borneo 09E projects offer plenty of variety and challenge

Get to know the exciting projects that the Raleigh teams will be venturing out to on the expedition. Each venturer will be involved in at least one project in each of the following three areas:

1. Community Development - working with a community to help increase the standard of living

Gravity Water Feed system – Kampung Pinapak, Pitas District

Many remote communities within Malaysia still do not have access to clean, drinkable water. Although great steps have been taken to overcome this problem there still remains a large number lacking this basic need. Villages without a water source collect their water in large tanks and barrels from rainfall. The rainfall in many areas is insufficient to meet their needs all year round so water is often taken from polluted rivers. This has the obvious knock on effect of ill health through water borne diseases such as typhoid. Many communities use these rivers to wash in and there is additional contamination from chemicals used in agriculture, in particular from oil palm plantations. Provision of a gravity fed water system is a simple and often inexpensive solution to getting fresh water into a community. A community may also have an existing system which needs repair work to make it functional again. Construction of a gravity feed water system involves a detailed survey of the village and area to ascertain where piping and taps should be placed as well as locating a suitable source. Sources are generally several kilometres from the kampung and will be in hard to reach areas. They are usually springs or small streams which are free from pollution or human interference. Once a source has been identified, it is damned using wire cages filled with rocks and/or cement. Piping is then laid to several reservoir tanks which enable a head of pressure to be established as well as to cope with periods of high demand. From these tanks, piping is then laid into the kampung; this will usually involve digging the pipe into shallow trenches to avoid it being damaged. Finally connectors and taps are installed as the system is established within the community to provide the most efficient supply. During the whole process the local community assist with the work and are educated on how to maintain their system in order to provide a sustainable solution to their water requirements. Kampung Pinapak is approximately 4-5 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu, the first 3 hours are on good roads as far as Pitas. Then the rest of the journey is only passable by 4 wheel drive vehicle, with the length of journey varying depending on recent weather conditions. This is the first kampong of 54 that our new project partner Asian Forestry are looking to support by helping them with land rights issues and social infrastructure development. The community is from the Dusun Kimaragang ethnic background with a religious mix of Muslim, Christian and pagan. The majority of people live of subsistence farming, with a few crops sold to nearby markets. Typical crops grown are: paddy, vegetables, coconut, corn, banana, oil palm and also rubber.

Kindergarten – Kampung Mapan Mapan, Pitas District

Education is a basic need which most western societies take for granted. It is well documented that individuals who fail or drop out of education at any stage are seriously disadvantaged in future life. Getting individuals into education as early as possible is a necessary requirement to ensure they maximize their opportunities for success. In Malaysia the Government provides educational facilities for children aged 6 and above with primary and secondary schools. Often young children have to travel for several hours to reach their nearest primary school. The main difficulty however is that before a child can be entered into school they must have a minimal standard of reading and writing. In the remote Kampungs where many of the elder generations did not attend school this is often not possible. Raleigh has worked for a number of years with a semi-government organisation called KEMAS. They report to the Ministry of Rural Development and are responsible for Kindergarten education. Their aim is to provide the basic level of education needed so that when a child reaches 6 years old they are able to start school, and not find themselves years behind their peers. Kampung Mapan Mapan is one of the poorest communities in the Pitas district, commonly referred to as the poorest district in Sabah, if not Malaysia. The Kampung is by the sea with the majority of the people living of fishing and a small amount of farming. The people are of from the Bajau ethnic group and the majority of the people are Muslim. There is a primary school that is attended by child from surrounding communities, some of whom are from different ethnic groups. The Kampung is often cut off for days at a time from the rest of the area due to poor road conditions. The journey from Pitas is between 2 and 3 hours by 4 wheel drive only. 2. Environment - working to increase access to environmental resources, conduct research, or raise awareness

Sepilok – Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

Probably the most exciting new conservation initiative in Borneo, this is a truly unique project. The Sun Bear is the smallest of the nine bear species in the world. With little known about the animal and its numbers decreasing, something needs to be done to secure its future. The new Conservation Centre was conceived by leading researcher Wong Siew Ti. The idea is a very similar model to that of the neighbouring Orang-utan Sanctuary. The centre will aim to raise awareness of the plight of the Sun Bear. It will allow for the rehabilitation of Sun bears that have been kept in captivity or orphaned. Those that can’t be released back into the wild will have the best life possible. Through a visitor programme the centre will become self funding with any profits used for further research of the species. The BSBCC is completely unique as it is a collaboration of so many different bodies working for a common goal. Raleigh groups will be supporting the project by helping with the construction of parts of the conservation centre, mainly fencing, enclosures and boardwalks. The project is being overseen by LEAP whom is working very closely with two government bodies, the Department of Forestry and the Department of Wildlife. Before Raleigh can begin work on this project the first few groups have to build a camp to enable groups to have the maximum benefit to the BSBCC. Therefore a jungle camp is going to be constructed in a nearby primary rainforest with the full support of all project partners. This is going to be a truly challenging start to this project. Sepilok is on the eastern side of Sabah, a 7 hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, on good roads.

Imbak Canyon – Trail & Infrastructure Development

Imbak Canyon is the last remaining untouched and relatively unexplored area of Sabah. Less than 200 people have ever entered this virgin primary jungle area where the last research team discovered a new tree species. The region is home to wildlife including elephants, Orang-utans and hundreds of rare bird species. Yayasan Sabah (the concessionary) now wants to reserve this area as a natural gene bank to help protect future biodiversity of the whole region and has asked Raleigh to play a major role in the development of this area. In early 2004, a Raleigh project team worked closely with the staff of Yayasan Sabah to plan the location and type of necessary infrastructure needed to protect and allow access to the pristine protected area of Imbak Canyon. The first stage included mapping the area to determine points of interest, possible trail networks, sources of water and best locations for a field centre. The second expedition to Imbak in late 2004 started putting in place basic infrastructure including a Ranger’s camp, visitors’ accommodation and basic trails. This was the first permanent structure built as part of the master development plan for this conservation area. Between 2005 and 2008 the infrastructure has been gradually expanded by a number of Raleigh teams. In addition new trails have been mapped out along the ridges and into the centre of the canyon by groups during expedition 05G in late 2005. In the last year Raleigh groups have completed a 200ft span bridge crossing a tributary of the Imbak Canyon close to the main camp used by visitors, BBC Camp. In the dry season this river can easily be crossed by foot. However, during the rainy season the river often becomes swollen cutting off access to the conservation area. There are still many years of work needed at this project location, this expedition is going to be mainly based around infrastructure development both at Rangers and BBC camp. This is likely to include construction of improved toilets, water systems, access board walks and trail blazing. 3. Adventure - a mentally and physically challenging project, usually linked to an environmental component


The trekking element of this project will see teams trekking in the south western corner of Sabah on the Kalimantan and Sarawak border starting from the small village of Long Pasia. The trek will be 10 – 11 days in duration and will involve teams carrying all their own supplies and equipment for the duration. Long Pasia is a very remote area and is steeped in tradition and folk lore. The surrounding jungle has been under threat for many years from logging and the community has suffered from a gradual decline in numbers as young people move away from the area. In order to halt this decline and re-establish the community as well as help protect the surrounding environment WWF worked closely with the community to develop an eco tourism plan. The plan has been running for several years but is starting to decline as new areas are opened up in Sabah. The area is one of the richest plant diversity sites in Borneo in particular for orchids, rhododendrons and pitcher plants. In addition the people of the area have an interesting history as fierce head hunters. There are many ancient legends passed down through the generations which make this a fascinating place to spend some time as well as being thick and untouched jungle. The trekking will be across arduous and physically challenging terrain, which will often mean that the team are extremely remote and will need them to be fully self sufficient. Teams will camp wild near the trail ensuring they have a minimal impact on the local surroundings and will leave nothing behind. Where necessary teams will assist local guides to upgrade the trail through the dense vegetation since the jungle very quickly grows back. Teams will obviously have the opportunity to learn about the pristine rainforest environment as they progress.


All adventure groups will also be involved in a SCUBA diving conservation program in Tungku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in partnership with Borneo Divers and Sabah Parks. The team will spend 3 to 4 days doing their PADI Open Water diving qualification followed by 1 to 2 days of an underwater clean up, where they will collect litter and other waste from selected areas of the marine park. During this time they will live on their very own paradise island from where the diving is carried out.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Borneo Field Base staff descend upon Sabah!

Welcome! Selamat Datang!

The preparation stage of the Borneo Summer '09 expedition has begun last Friday, when most of the Field Base volunteer managers arrived into Sabah's capital Kota Kinabalu. Keeping with the international flavour of Raleigh missions, they have come from all over the world, including South Africa, England, Scotland, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and even Cameroon!

Field Base managers, all with different responsibilities - from medics to finance to 4WD drivers - will be extremely busy for the next couple of weeks with getting things underway for a number of Project Managers, who arrive for training on June 19, and a whole heap of venturers on July 3, so that everyone can launch into action without too much mucking around.

While for several managers this is definitely not their first Raleigh Borneo expedition, most of the team have also been busy adjusting to Sabah's tropical heat with some severe sweating and visiting the Kota Kinabalu night markets to sample some local delicacies.

Here are some photos of the team around the Field Base:

Raleigh Borneo Summer '09 field base team (left to right)
: Colin Temple (Logistics Manager), Victoria Reid (Medic), Sarah Young (Adventure Challenge Leader), Mac McCarthy (Country Programme Manager), Jim Clements (Country Director), Yolanda Graham (Recruitment, Suppot & Media Coordinator), Ed Ptilidi (Communications Officer), Elda du Toit (Finance), Amy Holmes (Deputy Programme Manager), Niall Holland (Logistics), Dom Edwards (Photographer)

Raleigh Borneo's Field Base in Kota Kinabalu, from where most of the Sabah operations will run.

Some of the bells and whistles - or rather spades, saws, and buckets - waiting to be put to good use.

Jim, Mac, and Amy, working mostly from the Field Base, share plenty of experience to ensure smooth running of the Sabah operations.

Sarah is very hands-on, even when at the office. She will co-ordinate the five-week expedition, due to arive in second half of July.

Niall has been getting his hands (and feet) dirty to ensure all the required equipment is in good order.

There's plenty of hard work and enthusiasm happening at the Field Base in preparations for the rest of the expedition team to arrive. The next step for the team will be getting out to get some TAC (Traverse Adventure Centre) training this weekend. We will keep you posted!