Roziah Jalalid lives on Omadal Island, Borneo, Malaysia. She’s mother of two and also Chairperson of The Women’s Association of Omadal Island (WAPO).
“If we unite as a community, we will ensure our ocean can return to the way it was.” Roziah Jalalid on the importance of joining a global movement to save the oceans.
She grew up in what most people would call paradise: Omadal, Malaysia. However, she’s been a first-hand witness to the ocean changing over the last decades. Roziah decided to take matters into her own hands and took on the responsibility of leading WAPO. Roziah is our next Ocean Witness.
What does the ocean mean to you?
My people have lived on Omadal Island for 3 generations. As a Bajau – the indigenous inhabitants of Malaysia – our lives are deeply connected to the sea. It provides our food and economical source.
How do you see the ocean changing?
I’ve seen so many changes on my island throughout my life. The weather is getting hotter, fish are getting lesser and pollution has gotten worse. Five years ago we found 14 turtle nests. This year, there are only four. The rise in temperatures means that there are more female turtle hatchlings and less males to mate and to produce the next generation. We humans are destroying our own natural resources.
“Imagine our children swimming in this rubbish, what would happen?”
As an Ocean Witness, what do you to have a positive impact on the oceans?
I’m the Chairperson of The Women’s Association of Omadal Island (WAPO) and I’ve been involved in community engagement, outreach and capacity building for marine conservation in Sabah, Malaysia since the beginning. WAPO started to involve the women in our community to preserve our natural marine resources in 2010. I feel that Omadal needs a Marine Protected Area to protect our coral, our fish and turtles from poachers and fish bombings. Our community produces handicraft as a side income. 10% of the sales are distributed to the conservation fund. Through WAPO, the women lead patrolling of the seas for turtle egg collection and to teach our youth to care for the marine environment.
How important is it to be an Ocean Witness and what would you say to other people who are like yourself?
If we unite as a community and educate our next generation together, we will ensure our ocean can return to the way it was. Through the community, we educate kids and the next generation how to protect the sea. Our hope is that in 15 years, the seas will become the way they were and have more fish. We should work as a team to protect the ocean.
Roziah Jalalid lives on Omadal Island, Borneo, Malaysia. She’s mother of two and also Chairperson of The Women’s Association of Omadal Island (WAPO) and has been involved in community engagement, outreach and capacity building for marine conservation in Sabah, Malaysia since 2010. Now, she is continuously working on conservation and motivates other housewives to become a conservation champion of their family. WAPO is a community-based organization that focusses on addressing threats to the marine environment, such as destructive fishing practices, turtle egg poaching and pollution. They also focus on improving income security for women in Omadal island, through environmental awareness activities and campaign on sustainable natural resource management. WAPO is founded with the support of WWF-Malaysia.