Alor Setar, Malaysia: The access to safe and sustainable drinking water remains a challenge in Malaysia, particularly for school children in rural areas.
Malaysian government is trying its best to ensure clean water, adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities to hundreds of schools in remote rural areas. For this, millions of dollars have been allocated over the past few years.
Although an increasing number of rural primary schools are securing adequate water supplies, drinking water quality is still a challenge.
Water contaminated by pollution as a result of some industrial activities and environmental issues can lead to illness and even death among children.
It is unlikely that Malaysia will run out of water. The Association of Water and Energy Research cautions that the country will not have access to good quality raw water by 2020, if present-day logging and pollution trends persist. And the price for treating heavily polluted water is high indeed. Malaysia is relying on surface water for now but leakages, badly maintained and burst pipes lead to much wastage, reported the New Staits Times last year 2016.
The increasing demands for water from rural schools, industry and households in Malaysia require the relevant authorities to evaluate the current strategies that have been adopted to meet these requests. Responding to the growing public demands for clean drinking water, this year Malaysia government is initiating and taking more steps towards finding efficient technologies, strategies, and reliable water supply companies to carry on this task and to solve the issue of water shortage in rural areas, not only for a short term, but long term.
MWN reporter has recently been shown around two remote schools near Alor Setar, Kedah.
The first thing that strikes the mind when visiting such schools is the beautiful surroundings – cosy, greenish sceneries and palm trees, besides a clean environment. However, it is still hard to find clean water for drinking in there. There is plenty of water flowing from the pipes, but not safe to drink; we had to ask for a bottle of mineral water to quench our thirst and stay well-hydrated, instead of drinking from the existing pipes. Student usually brings their own bottles of water with them from home.
Another thing we have noticed while visiting those two schools was that there is some highly sophisticated water ultra-filtration system already installed inside for nearly a decade, but unfortunately it is not functioning, nor being maintained. This already existing system supposed to be working and supplying clean drinkable water.
This leads us to the question of why this sophisticated system is not being utilized or maintained even when it can solve many water problems in the country. Could it be that the cost is prohibitive or there are delays due to red tape? Or, could it be resistance on accepting new, green technology with long term value to the country has not been realised.
This already existing system was implemented by Oltremare Asia Centre of Excellence for Water Technology (OACE).
OACE, which is a global water innovation hub, is investing by collaborating and matching local and foreign high technology via their development on membrane-based water treatment technologies.
For its inaugural project which started in year 2008, OACE has developed innovative water treatment technologies utilizing Ultra-filtration System in the most isolated schools in peninsular Malaysia.
The nature has been the role model for membrane design where cell technology and membrane separation technology, particularly for the treatment of aqueous solutions is the core. Thus, the sum total technology involves Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Advanced Material Technology, ICT and Low/Renewable Technologies. The advantage of the system over conventional system and filtration apart from energy efficiency and green credentials is less downtime, said OACE.
-Malaysia World News