By Christian Nolle.
Deep in the heartland of Sarawak in Borneo close to Brunei runs the river Baram. The Sarawak government wants to erect a Dam on it, as part of the ‘Sarawak Corridor Of Renewable Energy’ (SCORE). Its construction would flood some 400 sq km of rainforest and displace approximately 20,000 indigenous people.
Right now, construction work is being blocked by locals. They have been at it for 217 days and counting. The blockaders have begun to erect permanent homes along the proposed supply roads. They are settling in for the long haul and they need our help and support.
They know what they are fighting against; three dams have already been built on indigenous lands in Sarawak and have had devastating effects on both communities and the environment. Also, the mounting costs of these dams will ultimately be borne by Malaysian tax payers.
The Baram Blockade website is a part of the Sarawak Report, edited by Clare Rewcastle Brown which has been publishing investigative reports on corruption in Sarawak & Malaysia since 2010 and is one of the most critical voices of the current government. The case has also been added to EJOLT’s Atlas of Environmental Justice.
During the 2013 Malaysian federal election we launched the Election Bribe & Abuse Map, an online tool that allowed anyone with access to a smart phone or computer to report cases of corruption leading up to and during the election, anonymously without the risk of prosecution.
The Baram Dam Blockade website is a logical extension of that project, but more focused. Whereas the Election Bribe map set out to act as a crowd sourced tool of corruption reports, the dam site is focused just on the Baram Dam for now. Its primary aim is to create awareness for the campaign beyond the borders of Sarawak and Malaysia. The construction of the Dam might be construed as a very local matter but in reality what’s at stake here is much bigger than that. Sarawak has one of the world’s most fragile eco systems and if the construction of the Baram Dam goes ahead it would be just another nail in the coffin for a part of the world that has seen continued environmental exploitation.
The website is updated continuously as we receive material about each of the affected villages. The interactive map visualises for the first time the possible impact the dam could have in a clear concise manner.
Data and GIS resources have kindly been supplied by Bruno Manser Fond and photographs by International Rivers, SAVE Rivers and locals from Sarawak. The project has been created by Good Caesar, a London based web design agency for Sarawak Report.