19/06/2024 07:54 PM

PEKAN, June 20 (Bernama) -- The 50-year wait for the Orang Asli community of the Jakun tribe in Kampung Permatang Pauh, Nenasi, to have access to clean water has finally ended, thanks to the efforts of the Inner Wheel Club of Kuala Lumpur.

The NGO funded a water well project and provided six water tanks to store clean water for the 150 residents from 30 families, ensuring they have access to piped water right to their homes.

Tok Batin of Kampung Permatang Pauh, Salim Jusoh, 64, shared the community’s struggles, explaining that their remote location and scattered settlements made it difficult to obtain treated water.

"It was routine for us to dig our own wells to find water sources for cooking, drinking, bathing, and other needs. Without a river nearby, we relied entirely on these self-dug wells, which often dried up, forcing us to dig new ones,” he said.

Alisam Ali, 50, noted that the scarcity of water affected their ability to grow crops, a situation made worse by the prolonged dry season this year, often leaving them with dry wells and necessitating water transportation from neighbouring villages.

The lack of water forced the villagers to ration water and even skip baths to save water, and they often had to pool money to transport water from nearby areas, said Alisam.

Due to the water woes, he said the community could not even grow crops for their own use, and had to rely on odd jobs, such as working in oil palm plantations, to make ends meet.          

 "It’s challenging to find rattan now, and we often have to travel to Sungai Rompin, which is half an hour away, to fish for food," he added.

Rafaeah, 31, explained that the water they managed to extract was often muddy, leading to frequent bouts of diarrhoea among villagers.

"We are very happy that the NGO has built proper wells, giving us clean water," she said.

Meanwhile, International Inner Wheel board director Juanita Lee explained that the systematic well project initiated in January was part of the 'H Water Project', comprising 43 wells across the state in memory of her son, Datuk Lee Chung Han, who was active in helping the Orang Asli community.

"The 43 wells represent my son's age when he passed away. We hope these wells in selected villages will improve their living conditions, health, and future prospects," she said, adding that the initiative earned them a Malaysia Book of Records recognition.

Inner Wheel Club of Kuala Lumpur president Rani Gurmit noted that no other NGO had built such a large number of wells to supply clean water to those in need.

"We will continue with this effort to help such communities as access to clean water is a fundamental right for all," she said.



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