Co-Designing to Lessen Haze Impact Among Children in Central Kalimantan

A co-design workshop taking place in Central Kalimantan (Photo credit: Chizuru Iwata/UNICEF)

The effects of haze events on everyday life in Central Kalimantan are egregious. From disrupted commutes to medical complications, there are numerous accounts in communities about how residents have coped with the phenomenon. Our research team was recently in the capital, Palangka Raya, on a follow-up visit to further develop and test a few prototypes intended to lessen the impact of air pollution from wildfires.

With an emphasis on children’s health and wellbeing, Pulse Lab Jakarta along with partners (UNICEF, Kopernik, Ranu Welum and Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Center) conducted a co-design workshop to identify design requirements for the prototypes, while factoring in the beneficiaries’ socio-economic and health conditions.

These prototypes include: a school emergency plan, a haze emergency kit, as well as a community-driven air quality information (AQI) system.

Shaped by Pulse Lab Jakarta’s thick data research, Reality Check Approach’s ethnographic research and the feedback from our first prototyping Co-Design for Change workshop in Jakarta, these prototypes are human-centered and practical for stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, community volunteers, among others.

1. The school emergency plan entails designated locations where children can temporarily attend classes away from haze-concentrated areas. Instead of suspending school during haze days, students and teachers would be able to safely carry on with regular school activities at alternative sites. Parents would also be able to conveniently choose one of the makeshift emergency schools nearby their homes for children to attend. The goal is to ensure that students continue to receive an uninterrupted education instead of having to reset after each absence (which the children normally spend playing outdoors despite the haze) from school.

2. The haze emergency kit consists of a mask, goggles and a DIY (do-it-yourself) air filtration device. The design incorporates a safe room within each home, where air gaps may be sealed using one of the items inside the kit, such as foam, rubber inserts or tape. The emergency kit addresses residents’ concerns about price hikes of masks during haze periods, eye irritation for those who must go outside, and the presence of high levels of PM 2.5 even for those who remain inside their homes. One of the limitations for implementation though is affordability, since not all residents perceive the kit as an absolute necessity, and therefore would not prioritise spending towards it. It is hoped that the kit will eventually be available at a subsidised cost to the residents.

3. The air quality information system relies on community involvement. This system necessitates a network of citizens to collect air quality information using sensors, as well as, to disseminate the information. As a result, citizens can collectively use such information to design intervention mechanisms, as in the case of an evacuation. The cost of procuring AQI sensors and the health risks to those citizens volunteering to retrieve the sensors are a few undermining factors.

This on-the-ground co-design workshop was imperative, because successful implementation for us means adaptability in a local context, for people living in both rural and urban surroundings. In an effort to further refine the prototypes, hardware testing, additional observations, and more direct dialogues with citizens took place. Kopernik, UNICEF, Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi, dan Geofisika (BMKG) and Big Red Button steered the technical testing component. Additionally, the research team has conducted an assessment of the various enabling and undermining factors, specifically for each prototype.

The project is nicknamed Haze Hacks. This blog is part of a prelude series to our next Pulse Stories edition about tackling the haze crisis in vulnerable communities.


Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support from the Government of Australia.