Villagers grateful for basic facilities

Rural telecommunication tower. Photo: Bernama

SERIAN: The young people are putting their high hopes on the state government to install broadband internet facilities in the rural areas such as at Kampung Merakai here.

Having an internet service in the village would provide better access for online learning and socio-economic activities.

They also hope that the agencies concerned could look into other developmental needs and issues of the villagers.

Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, who launched a utility project at the village recently, pointed out that the bad road to the place needed to be improved.

“It might be a minor project but in the big picture it is part of the efforts of fast-tracking Sarawak into a high-income society by 2030,” he said.

“I will discuss the matter with the state Cabinet how we can do it.”

Some young people in the village who were asked about their thoughts on development expressed varying thoughts on the matter.

Melini Jerry

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MELINI JERRY

I am grateful for the basic facilities such as clean and treated water as well as electricity supply to the villagers.

Riti Kerina

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RITI KERINA

I believe that the amenities will motivate the villagers, especially those who are still studying, to play some roles in the developing digital economy.

Cristy Alan Brendie

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CRISTY ALAN BRENDIE

I hope the streetlights can be installed along the road inside the village. We also hope that the road can be upgraded to a tar-sealed one.

This road to Kampung Merakai needs to be improved especially in view of the wet season as the road gets muddy after each rain.

Understanding rural development 101

First off, what is “rural” in the Malaysian contest? Rural Malaysia is still home to about 7.3 million people who live in 26,400 villages. About 3.1 million of them reside in 46 remote districts in Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. The interior dwellers are spread across a vast rural landscape covering 52 percent of Malaysia’s land mass.

So what are the strategies of rural development? The main argument arising from analysing these issues is that a development strategy which creates and enhances the synergies between agriculture and industry and goes beyond the rural–urban divide offers the best possibilities for generating a process of rural development able to eradicate rural poverty.

Rural development is the process of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in rural areas, often relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. Rural development has traditionally centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry.

Challenges facing the development of rural areas in many countries including Malaysia are characterised by inadequate infrastructure and service provision, weak employment and income growth, a poor education system and widespread poverty.

The top characteristics of a rural communities that need to be considered when strategising development plans for them are: (1) size of the community, (2) density of population, (3) agriculture is the main occupation, (4) close contact with nature, (5) homogeneity of population, (6) social stratification, (7) social interaction, and (8) social mobility.

The three dimensions of rural development are economic development, environmental conservation, and societal equity. These might in times conflict with each other as an economy evolves and grows.

Problems of rural development that have been identified are poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment. Poverty is the condition when individuals experience scarcity of resources that are necessary to sustain their living conditions appropriately.

Thus the basic objectives of rural development have been alleviation of poverty and unemployment through creation of basic social and economic infrastructure, provision of training to unemployed youth and providing employment to marginal farmers and/or labourers to discourage seasonal and permanent migration to urban centres.