The world’s population is growing rapidly, especially in the developing world. With that growing population comes a need to figure out where to put all the new people. As we build more houses, it’s important to create sustainable development. If only there was some sort of simple blueprint to follow.
That’s why, in a collaborative effort to create a village that redefines rural poverty relief, researchers from the U.S. and Malaysia have come together to build a high-tech, self-sustaining community northeast of Kuala Lumpur. With 100 energy-efficient homes and a closed-loop agricultural system that provides not only food for its residents but a surplus for them to sell, the project architects believe the village could be a model for villages around the world.
The community, Rimbunan Kaseh, is in the Malaysian state of Pahang and it runs off energy supplies that are largely solar-generated, supplemented by biomass and hydropower. Its agriculture system grows both animals and crops: A four-level aquaculture system nurtures farmed tilapia—a high-protein fish—and then the wastewater is filtered and put to use to irrigate grain fields, trees, and other crops. The system has proven robust enough to create food to feed the residents and then some, providing villagers with an additional $400 to $650 of income each month.
"This model offers a great opportunity to create holistic change for people in the worse circumstances in Malaysia and other nations," Ellis Rubenstein, president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences said to the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council meeting in San Jose, California.
Houses in Rimbunan Kaseh came from Australia-based Koto Corp: They’re modular, constructed from pre-fabricated pieces that fit together like a puzzle, take just seven to 10 days to build, and cost about $16,000 to $20,000. Beyond the houses themselves, the 12-hectare (nearly 30-acre) village holds a community center, education and recreational facilities, and 4G Internet equipped for use in both e-learning and e-health.
The country plans to build as many as 12 more villages like Rimbunan Kaseh in the near future with the hope that their initiative will spur economic growth, provide education and jobs, and improve the quality of life for some of Malaysia’s poorest communities.