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Why BAKO? For Bako Zero Waste Village

Bako Village is about 37km north of Kuching City. The village is built along the muddy river estuary of Bako River. The village has approximately 3000 people living in 450 households. Bako River plays a very important part in human activities and the water cycle in Bako Village, acting as drainage channels for surface water and also provide excellent habitat and food for villagers and many of the Bako's wildlife such as crocodile, bird, monkey, monitor lizards, squirrels, and flying lemurs.

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Bako is an attraction for local and foreign tourists. Bako National Park receives approximately 50,00- tourists every year, of which 75% are foreign tourists. The uniques characteristic of Bako National Park is the seven complete eco-systems that can be found within the national park, beach vegetation, cliff vegetation, heath forest, mangrove forest, mixed dipterocarp forest, grasslands vegetation, and peat swamp forest.

Bako residents need to protect and keep the environment clean to preserve biodiversity and nature around Bako. The most crucial issue with the environment is waste management. Solid Waste Disposal (SWD) management is under the jurisdiction of Kuching North City Hall (KNCH).

However, Bako village is separated from the mainland; it is not viable for KNCH to provide adequate SWD collection. The village is located on the other side of the Bako River and there is no access by road and bridge. Access is by boat that ferries people and goods, thus direct carrying of waste to landfill is a challenge.

KNCH has provided alternative services via strategically located bin centers where villagers can deposit waste. The collection is on twice-weekly schedules. However, the method very much relies upon the self-disciplines and the civic consciousness of the villagers. The village is also affected by water tide and illegal solid waste dumping into waters is quite rampant.

The geographical condition of the landform and river stream in Bako is not suitable for establishing landfills. Heavy rain and river torrent often resulting landslides in the vicinity of the village. Small land areas will also cause the surroundings to become stinking and unpleasant.

Prior to 2003, there was neither a community initiative to clean up waste or a system of SWD management by the authority in Bako Village. Later KNCH tried to educate and held campaigns but the progress gave less than adequate impact.

In 2012, Natural Resources and Environment Board Sarawak (NREB) collaborated with Tochigi International Association (TIA), Japan and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and KNCH to initiate a project on Domestic Solid Management in Kampong Bako. The project was carried out from April 2012 to March 2013.

However, the budget from JICA was only for capacity building and not for physical development and facilities. The project sent 6 government officers to the selected City Council and Organic Waste Recycling Centre in Japan to learn about handling household solid waste, recycling waste, and incineration waste. A total of 8 community leaders went to Japan under the same program.

A composting project was started in 2014 at Kampong Bako. A small composting center was built. The project was one-time assistance with inadequate system and infrastructure to sustain it.

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