RANAU: Over the next three weeks, 21 youths from villages in the central Sabah district of Telupid and Ranau will learn, discuss and explore what their natural environment means to them and how they could create green businesses and other sustainable livelihoods.
Launched Tuesday in Kampung Paus, here, the Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods for Youth in Borneo (SALY-B) programme is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES)
The programme will see participants go through an interactive module that covers 13 key questions and issues, such as their existing knowledge on natural resource management, the value of their leadership and strength, and what business opportunities can emerge from working in harmony with the environment.
The financial value of land and its uses, raising awareness on biodiversity, and why watersheds are important, are included in the module for the programme organised by Raleigh Borneo and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).
Several young people interviewed prior to the start of the programme shared that they have worked as or are employed in jobs ranging from field staff at an oil palm estate, to volunteering with the Territorial Army and acting as an assistant for land surveying. Others tap rubber and attend to farms or assist the family with a grocery story.
Rosepilin Asdin of Kampung Bunakon heard about the programme from a friend and signed up, seeing it as a unique opportunity to learn about business development and environmental issues.
“I hope that I can become more independent and learn how to develop tourism related programmes and fish farming. At the moment, I do not have much knowledge about the natural environment and this programme is a way for me to learn,” Rosepilin said.
Norsarfidi Rakan who lives in Kampung Tampios said his family’s earnings come from working on oil palm estates and through his mother who is a cook at a school.
“I used to work as a field assistant at an oil palm estate but I now help my mother. I am interested to learn new things as there is nothing much for me to do at the moment. I am keen to do fruit farming, fish farming and working to conserve wildlife,” he said.
For Joanne Jinos, it is her belief that humans and the environment are interdependent that has prompted her to find out how she can play a role in doing what is right for nature.
“Take for example water. If we do not protect it and it becomes polluted, we cannot use it anymore. However, there are many things that I still do not know and I am excited to learn new things through this programme,” Joanne of Kampung Kigiwit said.
Breadly Balandai and Mohd Siraj Salleh of Kampung Tampios are interested in developing green businesses, especially in the tourism sector, and are also curious about new ideas and ventures.
They hope to share their knowledge with fellow villagers and to strengthen the relationship that people have with their natural environment, such as by ensuring species do not go extinct and through the understanding of what nature provides including traditional medicines.
Raleigh Country Director Sue Hennessey said: “We are delighted to be leading the sustainable alternative livelihoods for youth in Borneo (SALY-B) programme, which recognises the impact young people can have in their communities.
It will enable young people to develop the skills and knowledge to actively participate in the sustainable management of their natural resources in their communities through the establishment of sustainable green businesses.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with LEAP and key government departments to inspire young people to take part in the conservation of the natural environment within the Telupid Forest Complex (TFC), the epicentre of the Heart of Borneo.
“This programme will also contribute to the global sustainable development goals (SDG’s) and contribute to preserving and protecting this valuable asset for future generations,” Hennessey said.
LEAP Executive Director Cynthia Ong hopes youths who take part in the programme will put their knowledge and experience to good use, creating positive change and impact at local level.
“I was uplifted by the energy of the young men and women I met; they were so ready and eager to learn more about their ecological landscapes, dive into issues and understand how developing alternative livelihoods can help shift the realities on the ground.
“I am excited about how us elders can engage deeply in mutual learning relationships with our youth and weave intergenerational narratives that can support us all.
“It is also hugely meaningful to do this with our partners in government – Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department and the Department of Irrigation and Drainage – and build bridges between the communities and them,” Ong added.