From: Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology via EurekAlert
Published September 18, 2014 06:15 AM

Malaysia's 'Smart Villages' and other great ideas for sustainable development

As nations zero in on the UN's post-2015 global Sustainable Development Goals, innovations being successfully pioneered and demonstrated in Malaysia offer several proven tactical ideas for improving the world, says an influential international sustainable development networking organization.

The UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), through its Malaysian chapter, cites ways in which the country is "rising to the challenge," including the construction of ingenious, self-sustaining "smart" villages -- each lifting about 100 families out of poverty and into affordable homes and employment.


Meanwhile, guides for minimizing the carbon footprint of cities while promoting healthy lifestyles, and using science to extract new wealth from palm biomass waste are among other creative initiatives underway in Malaysia that help light a path for emerging economy countries.

High-tech "smart villages" under construction in Malaysia are lifting incomes for scores of rural families while promoting environmental sustainability.

Each community consists of about 100 affordable homes, high-tech educational, training and recreational facilities, with an integrated, sustainable farm system providing villagers with food and employment -- on average tripling monthly income to about US $475.

Three villages are completed, four more are in progress and 11 more are planned in rural Malaysia for completion next year. Nine of the villages are in areas settled under Malaysia's Federal Land Development Authority -- a government agency founded to help resettle poor families in newly-developed areas with smallholder farms growing cash crops.

The smart villages -- designed, built (on about 50 acres each) and initially managed by Malaysia's IRIS corporation -- feature 1,000 square-foot homes built largely from post-consumer materials, each home constructed in just 10 days at a cost of under $20,000.

The innovative farming operations include a cascading series of fish tanks. Aquafarmed at the top of the water ladder are fish species sensitive to water quality, next tilapia, then guppies and finally algae, the latter two used to feed the larger fish.

Filtered fish tank wastewater then irrigates trees, grain fields, and high-value plants grown in "Autopots" - a three piece container featuring a smart valve that detects soil moisture levels and releases water precisely as required, reducing the need for fertilizer and pesticides. Worms from plants compost are fed to free-range chickens.

This system optimizes nutrient absorption, minimizes waste and enables crops to be grown in previously non-arable land. Premium produce sold at market include Golden Melon, Butterhead Lettuce, Misai Kuching (herbal tea), Jade Perch fish and the free-range chickens.

The village's solar-generated power is complemented by biomass energy and mini-hydro electricity. A community hall, resource centre, places of worship, playgrounds and educational facilities equipped with 4G Internet service support both e-learning and e-health services.

Image shows ingenious, self-sustaining 'smart' village. Each can lift about 100 families out of poverty and into affordable homes and employment.

Credit: MIGHT (Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology)

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