The Socio-Economic Performance of the Penan Community at Murum Resettlement Site, Belaga, Sarawak

Modin Ambau, Pakhriazad Hassan Zaki, Mohamad Maulana Magiman, Diana Emang


Murum Resettlement Site (MRS) is one of the government’s programmemes aimed at ensuring a better future for communities impacted by Sarawak’s dam developments. The Penan was the largest community being relocated to MRS in 2013 before the construction of Murum Dam. This relocation programmeme has resulted in various impacts and reactions from those involved. The objective of this study was to examine the socio-economic performance of the Penan community after relocating to MRS. The study was conducted in December 2020 using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Data were collected using questionnaires, in-depth interviews and site observations. A total of 269 head of households and six key informants were interviewed. SPSS software was used to analyze the data collected. Out of 24 aspects that were evaluated, a total of 11 socio-economic aspects were found to have improved well. These aspects were home ownership, household income, property ownership, job opportunities, level of skill and knowledge, educational facilities, electricity supply, road accessibility, communication facilities, religious building and sports/recreation facilities. Two aspects that remained good both before and after transferring to MRS were security and neighborhood relations. The four aspects that were getting worse were land ownership, access to forest resources, clean water source and air quality. The aspects that remained bad either before or after being relocation were saving, investment, level of education, transportation facilities, health facilities, business facilities and organized participation. Overall, the data showed that the families’ economic and social conditions had improved after they moved to the resettlement area. However, the study concluded that there is still room for improvement in terms of fundamental services, such as supplying every household with multiple clean water sources, more accessible healthcare services and better road conditions. Better road access comes with increased business and social activity, which in turn makes it easier for the Penans to find jobs and help to lift them out of poverty.


Penan; Resettlement site; Socio-economic performance; Belaga; Sarawak

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