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Collaboratory update January 2023 | Malaysia

All the latest from our Malaysian team

31 January 2023

A large mixed group of Hub members sit and stand together in several rows, smiling at the camera, with rooftops and blue sky visible behind them
A large mixed group of Hub members sit and stand together in several rows, smiling at the camera, with rooftops and blue sky visible behind them

The final day of the Hub Assembly in Colombia, November 2022

After a considerable amount of time spent apart or meeting virtually, it was great to finally come together again for an in-person Hub Assembly in Colombia. Each of our collaboratory teams led different sessions during the Assembly, and our Malaysian colleagues shared their insights and experience based on their work on the linkages between public health and water quality. NUMed colleagues also participated in the AGUA International Conference, held at Universidad del Atlántico, Colombia just after our Hub Assembly. Kwa Yee Chu presented her work on investigating risks posed by faecal coliforms in the Johor River Basin, and Dominic Kay shared his work on understanding antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and associated health risks. 

A mixed group of people sit together in front of a screen with the text 'Water Security and Sustainable Development: Focus on South East Asia'
A mixed group of people sit together in front of a screen with the text 'Water Security and Sustainable Development: Focus on South East Asia'

Symposium participants

Colleagues from our NUMed team recently held a Symposium event in collaboration with the Newcastle University Centre for Water (NUCoRE), and the Newcastle Research & Innovation Institute, Singapore (NewRIIS). Bringing together colleagues working in different disciplines and sectors across South East Asia, the event included discussions on key water security challenges faced in Southeast Asian countries; local, regional, and global partnerships; and establishing and fostering further important collaborations. 

The global rise in young climate and environmental activists has proven invaluable in helping to raise awareness and emphasise the urgency of the climate crisis. Hub researchers are working with a range of schools based within the Johor River Basin, Malaysia, to improve students’ understanding of climate change and sustainability. A total of 75 ‘energetic young warriors’ from Tenby School, keen to fight climate change, took part in the latest lively event delivered by the team, covering climate change, hydrology, and urban flooding. Dr Kogila Vani, research fellow from UTM’s Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Water Security (IPASA), led the activity ‘Waste Management: Me and Climate Change’, explaining to the students what global warming is and the effects it has on the environment. The team uses props made from recycled materials to help students understand the effects of littering (for example, how a clogged drain could aggravate flooding) and how proper waste management helps protect the environment.

Using real-life scenarios in conjunction with innovative technology, the team also engages students with a ‘Clean the River’ game. A simplified version of the Hub’s systems approach, the game is designed to show students how multiple factors can impact on and in a river basin and lead to significant risks or extreme events like flooding. The students also took part in several practical sessions, having a go at water level monitoring and using a rain gauge, exploring how flash flooding happens using props made of recycled waste, and trying out the Earth Warrior virtual reality game. The team expressed how rewarding it was to see the students be inspired and show such a keen interest in becoming protectors of the earth. 

To increase public awareness of the importance of caring for the natural environment, Malaysian colleagues at UTM have held a further ‘KUDAH rubbish and waste collection during exercise’ event. This event was co-organised by six research institutions within UTM: the Institute for Smart Infrastructure and Innovative Construction (ISIIC), Ibnu Sina Institute for Scientific & Industrial Research (ISI-SIR), Institute of Future Energy (IFE), Research Institute for Sustainable Environment (RISE), Institute Of Human Centred Engineering (iHUMEN), and Institute for Vehicle and Systems and Engineering (IVESE). Over 50 participants took part in the event, consisting of researchers, engineers, scientists, executive staff, and more, who collected a total of 65.4kg of waste between them. We can all play our part in looking after nature. 

Illustrative image
Illustrative image

Improving human-environment relations, and community understanding of ecosystems, is a key part of addressing global issues like water security, climate change, and ecosystem restoration. Our Malaysia Collaboratory is helping people to live in better balance and harmony with nature in a number of different ways, including their successful ‘Air Malaysia’ public webinar series that covers key topics and offers audiences a chance to hear from expert speakers. The latest instalment, ‘Are future floods predictable?’, was a collaboration with UTM’s Research Institute for Sustainable Environment (RISE) and focused on SDG 13: Climate action. The Hub’s Professor Dr Zulkifli Yusop led the webinar, starting with types of climate and weather-related disasters, and which were most frequent from 1960-2019. Flood prone areas in Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak, make up more than 10.1% of the total land mass, affecting around 6 million people and creating an annual loss of approximately RM900 million per year.

Dr Yusop explained the reasons for flooding and the different types of floods that can occur, for example flash floods, pensive floods, and river floods. Extreme weather events like flooding have increased and worsened in Malaysia and are becoming increasingly difficult to predict and manage, with areas rarely impacted by flooding now experiencing major events. Dr Yusop explored techniques used to determine the occurrence of floods, such as frequency analysis and probability plots for determining Average Recurrence Interval (ARI), and plotting peak flow. By delivering public focused events like the ‘Air Malaysia’ webinar series, our Malaysia team hopes to help citizens adapt to climate change, and be more prepared for extreme weather events as impacts like flooding become increasingly unpredictable. 

Finally, congratulations to Professor Dr Zulkifli Yusop (UTM) on being listed within the World’s Top 2% Scientists 2022 by Elsevier BV, Stanford University. 

Take a look at this infographic that captures some of the Malaysia team's achievements to date, including key research findings and exciting next steps.  

View infographic
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