- Singapore’s health ministry said it would end a government subsidy scheme for people in need of treatment from haze-related illnesses.
- Environmental pressure groups and NGOs met in Jakarta on Monday to discuss the government’s draft pledge to the UN climate summit.
- Researchers at King’s College London have been awarded a six-month grant by the Natural Environment Research Council.
The number of wildfires across Indonesia continued to decline on Tuesday following the arrival of rain in Sumatra and Kalimantan last week.
Data for the last 24 hours from Global Forest Watch showed a cluster of around 15 high-confidence fires near the northeastern coast of South Sumatra province. A few other fires continued to burn over the border in Lampung province with several hotspots recorded in Kalimantan, or Indonesian Borneo.
Many staff at Indonesia’s disaster management agency have had to pivot swiftly from putting out fires to managing floods following heavy rain. The disaster management agency said on Tuesday it had allocated $11 million to prepare for the impact of floods as a preliminary measure ahead of peak rains in January.
“People expect the Pekanbaru city government can overcome the flooding problem quickly – the rainy season has already started,” a ward chief told Riau Pos.
Singapore’s health ministry said it would end a government subsidy scheme on November 23 for people in need of treatment from illnesses related to the toxic haze produced by Indonesia’s fires. Low-income households would pay between $3.50 and $7 to receive medical treatment for a range of respiratory illnesses, including asthma, respiratory tract infections, conjunctivitis and pulmonary disease. Singapore said around 50,000 people had used the state subsidy and 630 doctors had participated.
Government data on the subsidy show three times as many low-income Singaporeans have been made ill by this year’s haze compared with 2013.
The last time the scheme was activated was in 2013. Some $350,000 in government subsidies was distributed to more than 17,000 people who attended clinics during the 2013 crisis.
Authorities in Central Kalimantan province remain concerned about child health in Palangkaraya, the city worst affected by this year’s disaster. The health ministry has handed out three cartons of milk to every schoolchild in the jurisdiction in a bid to ensure sufficient protein to boost children’s immune systems.
“All students, without exception, got three boxes of milk for three days,” said the city’s education chief, Norma Hikmah. Government estimates said the handout should reach 69,000 schoolchildren.
Researchers at King’s College London have been awarded a six-month grant by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) to use drones equipped with LiDAR sensors to map how much peat has been burned in Berbak National Park on Sumatra’s eastern coast.
“We know these extreme fires have a major impact on the earth’s atmosphere, and that this is one of the most important ways in which El Niño affects the climate,” said Professor Martin Wooster of the Geography department at King’s. “But we need to find out more about how much material is being burned, and also what is being released into the air, and studying fires in this Indonesian region gives us a unique opportunity to do this.”
Environmental pressure groups and NGOs met in Jakarta on Monday to discuss the government’s draft pledge to the UN climate summit, which begins in Paris on November 30. Indonesia has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 29 percent by 2030.
“How is it going to be financed?” said Monica Tanuhandaru, executive director of the Partnership for Governance Reform. “This still has to be discussed.”