Rivers play an important role in our lives. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten about the importance of rivers and this has led to serious degradation in our rivers today. In Penang, Sungai Pinang happens to be one of the 12 dirty rivers and one of the most polluted rivers in Malaysia. The lack of education and awareness of the general public about our water resources, how they are being managed, and how they should be managed is a key factor that has led to the current state of Malaysia’s overall water quality.

Another important factor is the lack of skill for genuinely interested people to take action in river management. This project aims to provide a better understanding of the importance of our rivers and appreciate their value. Geographic Information System (GIS) has become a popular tool in mapping and monitoring rivers. GIS connects data to a map and provides support for river management. Therefore, establishing a GIS River Management (GRM) focusing on mapping and monitoring rivers would create a better understanding of the importance of rivers among the public. This hope will increase awareness and participation of the community in the river and the use of the latest tool in monitoring the river in Penang.

Figure 1: GIS-based River Mapping and Monitoring of pH Level. (Source: GIS-based analysis of water quality deterioration in the Nerus River, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia)


The objectives of this project are (i) to develop a GIS-based river awareness and monitoring program, especially for rivers in Penang; (ii) to promote the importance of clean rivers in our daily life among youth; (iii) to encourage the young generation to care our rivers for reducing the climate and human impacts on rivers; and (iv) to raise collaborative action in clean rivers with the relevant agencies.

SDG4: To ensure quality education and promote the latest technologies in river awareness and monitoring programs.  

SDG6: To ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all with the inclusion of awareness on the importance of clean rivers.

SDG13: To ensure the young generation are aware of the impact of climate change on water pollution.

SDG17: Establish the partnership of PBA, Water Watch Penang, USM, and the Youth.


The content and activities of the program are as follows:

  • Module development

The GIS River Management module will be divided into two major parts: (1) Theory – Basic knowledge on the role of rivers, pollution, and usage of GIS technologies in managing rivers will be created; and (2) Practical – extracting river network using open source data and field observation will be developed.

  • Data Collection

This project will focus on Sungai Ara. The data will be collected from the drone in the Drone River Care Program, open source, and field observation. This data collection is very important for mapping and monitoring purposes.

  • GIS Mapping and Monitoring

All data collected for Sungai Ara will then be processed using the open-source GIS tool (Quantum-GIS/ Q-GIS). The whole program were using open-source tools and data for the participant to utilize for another river in Penang. This mapping and monitoring will eventually increase the understanding of managing the river and attract them to care for our river.


  • Immediate Outputs:

The immediate output as soon as the programme ends will result in university students from Geography earning leadership skills by becoming organizing committee members. At the same time, a positive partnership between the private sector, NGOs, schools, and government agencies will be established. The target output for this programme will be:

  1. At least 10 students are educated and trained to organize the GIS river management program.
  2. At least 30 students participate in the GIS river management program. After the program, the participants will be requested to share at least one of the maps developed on their social media and hashtag “GISmapping” & “cleanriver” so that the river care message will be shared with their friends, siblings, family members, etc.
  • Long-Term Outcomes:

This project is expected to produce long-term outcomes in river management and care for our river since the GIS knowledge was useful in many agencies. It will also increase curiosity among their friends and family members when they shared their digital maps on their social media which eventually promotes awareness and the importance to care for our river.


  1. PBAPP
  2. Universiti Sains Malaysia

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