- Indonesia’s ministry of higher education is attempting to create a research consortium on disaster management.
- Data from Indonesia’s disaster management agency showed the number of people diagnosed with acute respiratory infection increased to 556,945 by November 6.
- After a limited cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss peat management, Jokowi said he wanted the research department of Yogyakarta’s University of Gadjah Mada to play a central role in proposing Indonesia’s new peat strategy.
Air quality in Singapore threatened to seep into unhealthy levels again on Friday as Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo instructed ministers to form a specialist haze task force to stave off another wildfire disaster next year.
“Do not let the dry season come around next year with us not having done anything,” Jokowi said.
Many large tracts of forest, agricultural and abandoned land continue to burn in Indonesia but air pollution has dropped from the dangerous levels seen in recent months due to recent rain.
“I’m not expecting very serious haze here again,” said Dr Erik Velasco, a research scientist from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, referring to the city state. “It has been raining in Kalimantan and Sumatra, and the number of forest fires has dropped a lot.”
The Indonesian government continues to add to its plans for wholesale reform of the way Indonesia manages its peatlands and combats annual fires. But Jokowi’s announcements so far remain commitments to act as well as commitments to enforce existing commitments. What remains elusive is a concrete legal breakthrough backed by an enforceable presidential decree.
After a limited cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss peatland management, Jokowi said he wanted the research department of Yogyakarta’s University of Gadjah Mada to play a central role in proposing Indonesia’s new peat strategy.
“I want them involved in the [special task force],” Jokowi said. “They are experts in peat and I want them involved in designing peatland management in the future.”
In addition to UGM, the government hopes to bring research departments from other universities under the umbrella of the task force. Indonesia’s ministry of higher education is attempting to corral the archipelago’s universities into a single research consortium on disaster management.
The government hopes that endeavor will spur practical innovation to tackle annual fires. Ministers to pilot a new cloud-seeding aircraft before the end of this year, which was designed by Indonesia’s space agency in partnership with PT Dirgantara Indonesia.
“The consortium will produce better tools than we have now by using nanotechnology and other [technologies],” said research director Muhammad Dimyati. “We will also make recommendations to minimize the fires.”
Comments from environment minister Siti Nurbaya after Wednesday’s limited cabinet meeting are again instructive of just one of the tall obstacles to quick, tangible progress – Indonesia still lacks reliable maps from which to make assessments.
“A peat map already exists but the detail on peat depth and other things still needs to be prepared,” Siti said. “Earlier this morning the UGM working group met with the president. Later UGM will [work on the map].
“From the map we will know where there are protected and productive zones. We project the technical material will be completed by November.”
A report in Cambodia quoted Dr Veerachai Tanpipat, an independent researcher, as saying he had determined haze had reached Cambodia. The Cambodian government has yet to confirm whether it was affected by fires in Indonesia.
Data from Indonesia’s disaster management agency showed the number of people diagnosed with acute respiratory infection increased to 556,945 by Friday. Several thousand have been diagnosed with pneumonia or asthma.