Quiet, still, covered by the haze: this was the situation in Palangka Raya and other regions in Central Kalimantan during the forest fires of 2015. As the yellowish smoke filled the air, thousands of people were hospitalized, babies and elders affected, pregnant women miscarried, babies which were born at that time weighing below average, the airport closed for weeks and other transportations nearly paralyzed while thousands of hectares of forest and field burned, including local rubber fields. 

This forest fire and haze brought people, communities and organizations to work together in an effort to find a solution to end the fire and tackle the haze effect.

With this same purpose, on the 10 – 17 of July 2017 Ranu Welum collaborated with UNICEF (project coordinator) and various other organizations to develop haze hacks. This collaboration started when Emmanuela Shinta was involved as the speaker in Global Landscape Forum: Peatlands Matter, a forum which networked Ranu Welum Foundation with organizations like UNICEF, CIFOR and Pulse Lab Jakarta. These meetings created further connections with Kopernik of Jakarta and Big Red Button of Singapore, who also joined in the collaboration.

The purpose of this collaboration was to test prototypes and develop new strategies for protecting the population against the health impacts of haze and offer some potential solutions to the local government of Central Kalimantan.

Pulse Lab Jakarta facilitated a co-design workshop in an effort to dig local ideas about haze hacks from the young people in Palangka Raya, including university students, high school students and volunteers. The results were taken to Jakarta for further study.

Kopernik tested existing prototypes for creating a safe room that can reduce indoor air pollution during haze periods. The test involved simulating a polluted room with a controlled fire source, and then measuring air quality to see if the air purifier could reduce the air pollution to normal levels. Air pollution was tested through a particulate matter meter. These tests were conducted in two different house types; a beton/cement house in Palangka Raya and a wooden house in Petuk Katimpun Village. The tests utilized BMKG portable air quality measurements to calculate the effectivity of the air purifier to clean the air. 

Big Red Button used the Ranu Welum haze shelter as a testing space for their newest invention, the Haze Nest. The purpose of The Nest is to provide a haze shelter for people in the villages who cannot seal up their wooden houses or have access to materials for air purification. The Nest is constructed of rattan, an easily accessible local material, and instead of spending the money and effort to tape and seal the ventilations and gaps in the wooden houses, a small shelter can be created within the house, which reduces the space required for air ventilation and sealing. 

The results from the co-design workshops, testing and prototype design were presented to the government, experts and service heads in a debrief meeting on July 17. The meeting was held in the Bappeda meeting room and attended by departments of the local government including BMKG, BPBD, BLH/LHK, the Health Department and the Fire Fighter Department. Attending organizations included USAID Lestari, UNOPS, Borneo Nature Foundation, along with various other researchers, educators, volunteers and related parties.

This collaboration brought organizations from across Indonesia and around the world to work together in an effort to prevent forest fire and tackle the health impacts of haze. The results from the co-design workshop and field tests in the houses show positive changes and strategy development, and encourage future collaboration between organizations, communities and the government to solve this issue.