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Infrastructure development in the rural areas can reduce the social gap between urban and rural communities.
 

NKRA: New Hope For The Have-nots

SHELTER FOR THE NEEDY...Through the Housing Aid Programme (PBR) established under the NKRA initiative, the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development (KKLW) plan to provide 50,000 houses with basic amenities for the rural poor in the Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak over a three-year period. To date it has provided a total of 2,496 houses. These 3-bedroom units cost RM33,000 in the Peninsula and RM43,000 in Sabah and Sarawak. Pic: Courtesy of KKLW By Zukri Valenteno

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 (Bernama) -- To most Malaysians, a house with the basic amenities is considered a good enough shelter for the whole family. Anything beyond is considered a luxury.

But for those still in the backwaters, away from the mainstream of development, a three-bedroom spartan house is a haven.

This is especially so for the hardcore poor community where a house of their own is the first step in moving out from the shackles of poverty.

To these have-nots, such houses provided by the Government under the Housing Aid Programme (PBR) is heaven-sent.

The beneficiaries of these houses are the 30,114 Malaysians listed as being the hardcore poor while another 53,025 identified as poor.

NEW HOMES FOR THE POOR

Since the introduction of the National Key Results Areas (NKRA) initiative, the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development (KKLW) to date has provided a total of 2,496 houses under the PBR, either new homes or refurbished ones with the target of delivering a total of 16,626 houses in Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

This is part of the 50,000-house target set for the three-year NKRA programme with the houses either on state or privately-owned land provided with running and treated water, and 24-hour electricity supply.

A basic three-bedroom PBR house in Peninsula is valued at RM33,000 while those in Sabah and Sarawak at RM43,000.

While under the Basic Rural Infrastructure sub-KRA, the ministry is to provide 109 houses in Sabah, 1,437 in Sarawak and 950 in peninsula.

THUMBS UP FROM THE POOR

For Nuraine Nasir, 37, of Program Bantuan Rumah Berkelompok e-Kasih Kampung Londah, Gemas in Negri Sembilan, her new home is far more spacious and comfortable from her hut in Rokan, some 15 km away.

"I thank god for this house", said the single mother of three, now supplementing her income selling iced drinks around the newly officiated housing area which is about 10 km from Gemas.

She is among the first group of hardcore poor residents who wasted no time in collecting their keys when the District Office informed her that her application for a PBR house has been approved and that the house is ready for occupation.

Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal launched the housing programme last month which opened the doors to 50 RM33,000 houses with running water and 24-hour electricity supply.

Nuraine's neighbour Mohd Isa Ibrahim, 47, looks forward to a better tomorrow because his primary concern to shelter his five children comfortably has been addressed.

"This house is a heaven for poor people like us. Where are we to find a house without the government's assistance", he said.

Program Bantuan Rumah (PBR) Berkelompok e-Kasih Kampung Londah is another new hope delivered by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development to the people, especially those identified as hardcore poor with the primary objective of providing a home for the poor like Nuraine and Azmi.

CONNECTING THE PEOPLE WITH ROADS

The Ministry is also responsible in providing rural roads under the Rural Road Programme (JALB), treated and running water under the Rural Water Supply Programme (BALB) and electricity under the Rural Electricity Supply Programme (BELB).

These are the four sub-KRAs and the respective targets are building 7,000 km new and upgraded roads for the rural folks, giving access to water supply for 360,000 households and electricity to 140,000 houses from now until 2012.

As far as a hardcore poor family is concerned, the implementation of the NKRA programme brings about a new hope for them.

Otherwise it could take some time for them to get houses, water and electricity supply and roads that connect them with the economic centres in the rural areas.

So far, the ministry has built a total of 477.8 km of roads, comprising 171 km in Sabah, 17.1 km in Sarawak and 289.7 km in the Peninsula.

The rural roads are to connect 91.4 per cent of the folks living in the radius of 5km from paved road under the JALB.

To date, the ministry has supplied a total of 10,524 houses with treated and running water from the overall target of 70,181 houses in the Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

A total of 5,789 houses in Sabah are now enjoying water supply under the BALB with another 1,096 in Sarawak and a total of 3,639 in Peninsula.

The ministry also had supplied 2,691 houses with 24-hour electricity from its target of 25,312 houses in 2010. Of the number supplied, 1,476 are in Sabah, 1,090 in Sarawak and 125 in the Peninsula.

The NKRA projects implemented by the Ministry is through the collaboration of a few divisions, chief among them are the Infrastructure Division, Peoples' Well Being Division and the specially-created NKRA Unit.

MAPPING THE HARDCORE POOR

The Peoples' Well Being Division recently conducted a hardcore mapping exercise and has listed a total of 30,114 Malaysians as being hardcore poor while another 53,025 identified as poor as of June this year.

Sabah tops the list as having the most number of hardcore poor in the country with 14,184 people and another 13,669 being poor.

Its neighbour Sarawak is second with 9,993 hardcore poor and 13,993 poor. In peninsula, Kelantan has the most number of hardcore poor with 2,357 and 6,285 poor.

Melaka has the smallest number of hardcore poor with 25 people and 259 poor while Labuan does not have a single hardcore poor but registered 69 people as being poor.

At the rate the Ministry is currently going, the number of hardcore poor and poor is about to be reduced significantly, vis-a-vis achieving its objective of eradicating poverty among Malaysians.

Now, there is real hope for the have-nots.

(Zukri Valenteno is Head of Corporate Communications, Ministry of Rural and Regional Development. He can be reached at zukri@rurallink.gov.my.)

-- BERNAMA