Socioeconomic Development of the Local Community and Causes of Land Use Change in Belaga, Sarawak, Malaysia
- Modin A.
- Pakhriazad H. Z.
- Mohd Hasmadi I.
- Mohamad Maulana M.
- Diana E.
The state of Sarawak in Malaysia has witnessed a surge in demand for its valuable land resources, primarily driven by major commodity investors establishing plantations. These land concessions have further exacerbated land scarcity and the depletion of crucial forest areas, which are essential for the livelihoods of indigenous communities. The indigenous community in Sarawak, heavily dependent on forests, faces significant challenges due to land use changes. This study aims to identify the drivers of land use change and assess the socioeconomic impact on the local community in Murum, Belaga, Sarawak. The research was conducted in December 2020, utilizing a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Questionnaires, in-depth interviews, and site observations were employed to collect data, involving 511 household heads and ten key informants. Statistical analysis using SPSS software was performed on the collected data. The findings highlight that the primary cause of land use change in the study area was the hydroelectric dam project, followed by the establishment of oil palm plantations, logging activities, forest plantation development, government policies, and agricultural activities. Regarding infrastructure satisfaction levels, respondents ranked sport/recreational facilities as the most important, followed by electricity supply, house/accommodation facilities, education facilities, clean water sources, communication accessibility, health facilities, and road accessibility. Overall, the data indicates an improvement in the economic and social conditions of families due to land use changes in the area. However, the study concludes that there is still a need for further improvements in essential services, including providing multiple clean water sources to each household, enhancing access to healthcare services, and improving road conditions. Improved road access will foster increased business and social activity, facilitating job opportunities and contributing to poverty alleviation within the local community.
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