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Spark Foundation Marks Six Years of Success in Conserving Sungai Kinta

Appreciating sustainability efforts of local government agencies and communities.

20 October 2018, IPOH – SPARK Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of Heineken Malaysia Berhad (HEINEKEN Malaysia), hosted an appreciation ceremony to recognise the efforts and celebrate the achievements of a six-year smart partnership with various Government agencies and local communities on conserving Sungai Kinta in Perak.

SPARK Foundation’s W.A.T.E.R Project in Perak is the result of a partnership with Global Environment Centre (GEC), Department of Irrigation and Drainage Perak, Ipoh City Council, Department of Environment Perak, National Unity and Integration Department Perak, Perak Water Board, and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Kampar.

In 2013, the project was initiated in Perak to address pollution issues along Sungai Kinta. It then focused on educational outreach programmes to raise awareness on river care to local communities along the three tributaries of Sungai Kinta – Sungai Senam, Sungai Buntong and Sungai Kledang – after the Foundation’s success in Selangor, where the water quality in Sungei Way was improved from Class IV-V (extremely polluted) to Class III (suitable for living organisms).

The Foundation has invested RM1.6 million in Perak over the last six years and more than RM8 million was invested over the past 10 years in the programmes under W.A.T.E.R Project.

The momentous event was attended by Mr Shagivarnam G. Ratnam, Representative from SPARK Foundation and Head of External Affairs, HEINEKEN Malaysia, who presented certificates of appreciation while Dr. K. Kalithasan, GEC River Programme Manager, presented the water testing kit to the Foundation’s smart partners. An appreciation cheque worth RM10, 000 from SPARK Foundation was also presented to the local communities to organise a three-day, two-night empowerment trip to Kampung Sukunan, Yogjakarta, Indonesia to learn best management practices such as community based centre of composting, recycling crafts, environmental friendly house, methane and rainwater harvesting system, wastewater treatment facilities, and other aspects on eco-tourism. The empowerment trip will also include a day trip to Bantargebang Landfill to learn integrated solid waste management.

Shagivarnam said, “After recognising the success of our W.A.T.E.R Project in Selangor, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Perak reached out to us in 2013 to address water pollution in Sungai Kinta and to engage targeted communities along the three tributaries”.

“Together with our partners, we executed and supported over 100 educational outreach programmes which engaged 500 members of the local communities in W.A.T.E.R Project initiatives, established seven River Care Communities, and 10 business communities along the three tributaries in the past six years,” he added.

The Foundation also built Perak’s first River Care Education Centre (RCEC), a community-based one-stop learning centre set up in Buntong. The RCEC was created for the local communities of Sungai Kinta, as a recognition for their efforts in caring for the three tributaries. The centre is equipped with tool and resources to enable the community to conduct educational programmes on river rehabilitation and water conservation, as well as perform water quality testing.

Shagivarnam attributed the project’s success to the local government agencies and communities who supported the Foundation and worked as the on-ground change agents that made significant impact on promoting river conservation. The communities will now take on the baton to continue the sustainability efforts initiated by SPARK Foundation.

Dr K. Kalithasan, meanwhile, said, “Thanks to the support from SPARK Foundation, government agencies as well as the local communities along the tributaries of Sungai Kinta, the river condition has increased significantly. The public, including the youth, is also showing a better sense of ownership when it comes to rivers. I believe this has helped the government agencies in their effort to maintain and improve the water quality of these tributaries over the years. I am happy that the Foundation has documented best practices in a photobook that will be an exemplary point of reference for other government agencies and local communities.”

“Through our Sungai Kinta River Education programme, we empowered 48 Kawasan Rukun Tetangga and Sungai Kinta Youth Rangers to protect and conserve the rivers in their local communities. Recently, the Sungai Kinta Youth Rangers were also awarded the ‘Ketua Jiran Muda 2018 Awards’ by the Department of National Unity and Integration National Perak,” added Dr. Kalithasan.

The milestones and initiative by the people of Perak has been published into a photobook and can be downloaded here.