One of the MOA scopes covers sustainable rice farming in Ba' Kelalan highlands. Photo © Mckenzie Augustine / WWF-Malaysia

KUCHING: Sarawak’s World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) has renewed its memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of The Highlands of Borneo (Formadat) and People’s Association for Development and Education of Penan Sarawak (Pade) on the conservation of the nature environment ecosystem in Sarawak’s northern region.

WWF Malaysia chief executive officer Sophia Lim said the MOA would enable to strengthening the engagement with the grassroots living in the highlands area, specifically the Kelabit  in Maligan and the Penan at Kuba’an-Puak in Ulu Baram.

“We look forward to building a synergy and ongoing partnership with both grassroots organisations that will last for a long time to bring benefits to people’s livelihood while driving better protection and conservation of our natural resources and heritage,” she said in the statement released on Friday (Nov 20).

The MOA, Lim added, would ensure the Sustainable Forest Management and Income Generation from Natural Resources for Indigenous Communities in the Heart of Borneo (HOB) project under the Beratungsstelle für Private Träger (Bengo) funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development would be carried out with transparency to the communities.

WWF-Malaysia Bengo project manager, Cynthia Chin (left) and Ezra holding the signed MOA. Photo © WWF-Malaysia

In consultation with participating communities from the Kelabit-Maligan highlands and the Penan from Kuba’an-Puak in Ulu Baram which was represented by Formadat and Pade respectively, the Bengo project will encompass activities that include sustainable farming for subsistence, exploring additional livelihoods, riverbank restoration, sustainable rice production, building green infrastructure for sanitation, solar energy and localised micro-hydro systems and more.

She added that the local communities in the remotest parts of Sarawak often faced challenges that urban communities took for granted — from inadequate sanitation infrastructure to conveniences such as electricity and even means of consistent livelihood.

“In addition to these challenges, their livelihoods and well-being often depend on natural resources that are fast disappearing or are already degraded,” she said.

The MOA was signed by Lim, Formadat Malaysia deputy national chief John Trawe Kuda and Pade chairman Ezra Uda.

With this renewed collaboration, both Formadat and Pade believe there will be more success in bringing awareness and implementing sustainable practices such as organic farming and riverbank protection as well as developing Sarawak indigenous community.