ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY IN RIVER RESTORATION PROJECT: CREATING A COMMUNITY ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIP

M. Toriman1, M. Mokhtar2, R. Elfithri3, M.R. Zainal Abidin4, H. Juahir1

1University Sultan Zain Abidin (UniSZA) (MALAYSIA)
2Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI) (MALAYSIA)
3Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Institute for Environment and Development (MALAYSIA)
4The Regional Humid Tropics Hydrology and Water (MALAYSIA)
Community engagement refers to the process by which community benefit organizations and individuals build ongoing, permanent relationships for the purpose of applying a collective vision for the benefit of a community. Innovative strategies between community and academic partners, particularly the hydrologist are necessary to engage diverse populations in the research process. Community-based participatory research on river restoration promotes collaborations that involve both partners equally to develop interventions that best address the needs of community stakeholders. Utilizing principles of University Community Transformation Program (UCTP) and guided by a theoretical framework that emphasizes community knowledge acquisitions form the community itself, this feasibility study aims to develop a new community/academic partnership between the university and local community. The partnership's primary aim is to engage the target community in involving river restoration projects and enhancing their quality of live. 5-km stretching of Langat River, Malaysia was selected as a pilot project involving 570 families living along the reach. The “Eco-hydrology MSMA2” Project –among other things providing for urban river restoration, expanded parks and tree canopy. Implementation of the plan is underway, with an initial focus on river restoration, especially improving the river landscape based on MSMA2 and restoring the residential areas from 100 years return period flood.