River Care Award 2021: A fitting tribute to Malaysia’s river community champions

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Petaling Jaya, 10 October 2021 – Global Environment Centre (GEC) together with National River Care Fund (NRCF) today paid tribute to eight groups for their outstanding achievements in river conservation efforts, which has earned them the coveted River Care Award 2021.

Along with the recognition, the winning teams collectively receive a total sum of RM13,500. The winning teams comprise of three educational-based groups and five local communities – all who actively contribute towards the care and sustainability of river basin management.

The Champion for the Overall Category: Local Communities, Kelab Kebun Rumah Pangsa AU2 impressed the four- member jury with their on-going and sustained river and water conservation efforts within and around their urban community garden located near the Klang River. Some of their notable initatives include periodical river clean-up and river monitoring activities, a rainwater harvesting project as well as tree planting on the river bank. The community garden has also become a platform to bring people closer to river and as a hub for environmental education and is a catalyst to promote tourism and biodiversity conservation.

The winners were announced during Virtual Award Presentation Ceremony of River Care Award 2021, officiated by Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Malaysia Director General, YBhg Dato’ Ir Haji Nor Hisham bin Mohd Ghazali, and hosted at GEC headquarters in Petaling Jaya.

“GEC promotes smart partnership and multi-stakeholder engagement and in particular the involvement of local communities and interest groups such as these in sustainable river basin management. This has been a key enabler for GEC’s river care programme since its inception in 1998,” said GEC Director, Mr Faizal Parish, adding this year’s award is held in conjunction World Rivers Day celebrated on Sept 26 this year.

This year’s award theme Recognising River Care Community Champions is aimed to raise awareness among members of the public and encourage Malaysians from all walks of life to implement localised, community-based action plans or initiatives, which are sustainable and able to protect as well as mitigate river-related issues.

The River Care Award 2021 is a recognition of river care champions from amongst 29 communities from across Federal Territory, Johor, Kelantan, Perak and Selangor, nominated for their efforts in driving sustainable projects under NRCF’s Cycle 1 to Cycle 6 grant programme, as well as other GEC-related community-based river care projects. NRCF, a small grants programme initiated by GEC, has provided RM470,000 in grants and training, since 2015, to support more than 45 community groups in carrying out river care activities. Kelab Kebun Rumah Pangsa AU2 was a NRCF Cycle 2 grantee.

Meanwhile, under the Special Category: Educational Institution, Universiti Malaya (UM)’s Water Warriors– an on- campus environmental project team – won the top spot, earning them a cash prize of RM2,000. They are entrusted with the protection and conservation of water bodies within the university campus and are primarily responsible for the restoration of Tasik Varsiti under their Project ReViVaL initiative. They have also embarked on environmental education initiatives such as providing  case studies for environmental-related courses in UM, while conducting environmental education programmes for school students. All the eight winning teams also received a trophy and a certificate.

The virtual award ceremony saw the participation of more than 60 guests via Zoom and Facebook Live.

In his official address, Dato’ Ir Nor Hisham expressed delight over the heightened levels of creativity among the various nominees of the award, as well as the manifold results these have yielded: from the river adoption and monitoring, selling community garden produce, pollution reduction, river trail and recycling used cooking oil for pollution reduction and as a source of alternative livelihoods for the local community.

He assured that “DID will continue to provide the necessary support to all non-governmental organisations, community- based organisations, Friends of River Basin groups, local authorities, local communities and the private sector in their efforts to spearhead and drive initiatives for the conservation of the nation’s greatest asset – our rivers”.

Meanwhile, NRCF Advisory Committee Chair and GEC Council member, Dato’ Ir Lim Chow Hock also said NRCF remains committed to continually support all levels of society to connect with the environment, especially the rivers, and to instil a deep sense of appreciation for the entire river ecosystem.

“NRCF was set up by GEC with the sole purpose of encouraging civil society in Malaysia to care for the rivers and to support the setting up community-based establishments committed towards the conservation and preservation of all water resources in Malaysia,” he added.