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The Love Johor River Programme: Community engagement for accelerating change

World Water Day 2023: Accelerating change

21 March 2023

Neo Sau Mei, UTM

Community engagement is critical for accelerating the change required to address water security challenges. Communities need to be involved in research programmes from the outset to ensure change is sustainable and suitable at a local level. In February 2023, the Malaysia Collaboratory launched the Love Johor River Programme (Program Sayangi Sungai Johor) at the Community Hall of Kg Sungai Telor (Sungai Telor Village). This programme is just one example of collaboration between colleagues at IPASA-University of Technology Malaysia, the District Office of Kota Tinggi, and the Village Development and Security Committee (JPKK) - the community-based organisation of Kg Sungai Telor. 

This programme aimed to raise awareness of water security and river health of Sungai Johor through co-created and interactive activities, including: colouring, cooking, and fishing competitions; KUDAH (cleaning up the river); exhibition booths; and a quiz. We worked with the JPKK, the District Office, and a local fishermen’s club to create the programme, which was attended by over 200 visitors from schools, local and nearby villages, government agencies, and NGOs. 

Throughout the formation of the Love Johor River Programme, the community of Kg Sungai Telor was actively and deeply involved, from the planning, preparing, coordinating, and liaising stages, through to the programme's completion. Hub researchers worked closely with local residents to highlight their culture and gain a thorough understanding of what they need, in order to make this a goal-based programme with beneficial outcomes for the community. 

Throughout this collaborative process, the community were active stakeholders and decision-making partners. Working together like this and ensuring all voices are represented, heard, and included leads to more equitable, long-lasting, and efficient solutions that take into account the needs and priorities of all parties involved. This fulfilling collaboration resulted in novel and creative ideas, concepts, plans, and strategies that can resolve water security challenges.  

Take a look through the galleries below to get a flavour of this exciting event. 

“To me this programme is a very good beginning to help raise awareness in the communities, and communities can benefit through joining this programme too. I hope this programme can be conducted again in the future.” – Tok Ramlee, village headman of Kg Sg Telor

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