Friday, 30 June 2017

Adolescents take action; adults listen

By Liz Pick, Communications Specialist

The adolescents of Oeletsala village, Kupang, gained new confidence to speak up and voice their ideas through the 'adolescent circle'' © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Liz Pick

“It’s definitely never happened before. I never thought adults would ever listen to children’s ideas. But the head of the village did listen to us and now we have an easier life.”

So says 17-year-old Ina who lives in Oeletsala village near Kupang, a city in the western end of Timor Island in Eastern Indonesia. She and about 40 others from three nearby villages are part of a pilot programme to help adolescents learn to recognise risks in their environment and identify potential solutions using UNICEF’s Adolescent Kit for Expression and Innovation.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Monitoring Air Quality: Zeroing in on the Haze Problem

By Vania Santoso – Innovations Adolescent and Youth Engagement Officer 

The LaserEgg gives users real-time air quality readings so they can protect themselves from haze and other air pollution © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Vania Santoso

If someone you trusted told not to go outside because the air was dangerous to breathe, what would you do?

Last March, I went on a four-day mission to Palangka Raya, Kalimantan, ground zero for Indonesia’s haze-blasting agricultural fires, to determine whether real-time air quality monitoring systems might be of use.

In particular, I wanted to gauge interest in small, easy-to-carry air quality monitoring devices, such as the LaserEgg, with potential to provide information about air pollution levels to protect users’ health. What I found is that locals were interested in this type of technology due to its portability and easy readability. But real-world experience had taught them technology was only useful when used properly.

First, I talked to Sadrah and Vivia, two airport workers at Tjilik Riwut Airport. They shrugged off the LaserEgg’s PSI 115 “Unhealthy”’ reading not far from the tarmac. “It’s okay, we’ve seen worse,” Sadrah said. “Back in 2015, when much of Kalimantan was enveloped in a toxic yellow haze, visibility was only some 10 meters,” Vivia recalled.

Lody (left) introduced Laser Egg Air Quality Monitor to Arief, Sadrah, and Bayu © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Vania Santoso
The next day I met Pak John Pieter from the Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics Agency. He’s been working on forest fire prevention since 2006. When Lody, a colleague from PulseLab Jakarta, asked him whether an air quality monitor might be useful, Pak John replied, “Well, it tells us information that is good to know. But just knowing something doesn’t change behaviour.”

He compared haze to smoking cigarettes: “People know that it is dangerous, but still do it anyway…they don’t think about the long-term effects.”

Members of Relindo, a volunteer group, made similar points. Local coordinator Pak Joko said the city was already equipped with a downtown air quality reader. “In the past, even when the ISPU showed that levels were ‘dangerous’…people still went about their lives without a mask.” He argued that what was needed was increased government efforts to change behaviours during haze.

Hindris, another Relindo member, said such awareness-raising was crucial. “During the haze, we distributed N95 Masks to people living in affected areas, but they didn’t know how to use them, or what to use them for. Some even complained they were unable to breathe, preferring to cover their mouths with cloth…it was our job to educate them and make them aware of the dangers of not using the masks,” he said.

Pak Joko, Himmam, and Hindris from Relindo © UNICEF Indonesia/2017/Vania Santoso

Our interviewees all seemed to agree that a portable air quality monitor was just a tool. It is equally important to make sure the public knows how to put that knowledge into practice.

“Monitors like the LaserEgg give the public the data to make an informed decision about when to protect themselves. But it doesn’t tell them how and it doesn’t tell them why,” said UNICEF Indonesia Innovations Specialist Valerie Crab.

“Finding ways to trigger behaviour change with answers to those questions will be another innovations challenge,” she added.

Disclosure: The LaserEgg was given as a sample to UNICEF Indonesia by Origins, its distributor in Indonesia. Devices like this tell the user whether the particulate matter in a given location is Good (PSI 0-50), Moderate (PSI 51-100), Unhealthy (PSI 101-200), Very Unhealthy (PSI 201-300), or Hazardous (PSI 301 +). It color-codes these readings for easy comprehension.

Friday, 16 June 2017

BCA and UNICEF continue to partner for children

UNICEF Indonesia’s longest-standing corporate partner of 17 years, Bank BCA, travelled with UNICEF late last April to conduct financial literacy and personal hygiene workshops with students at two elementary schools in Sorong, West Papua, where they engaged with the students and teachers who benefit from the child-friendly school programme. The team also visited community-based early childhood development centres in Raja Ampat, West Papua. Coverage in local media was strong, follow the links below for more details on this successful trip.



Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Stopping Rubella in Its Tracks

By Dinda Veskarahmi, Fundraising Communication Officer

Aris (7) at school after recovering from Rubella

Central Java: Aris had just gotten home from school when the fever hit. His mother, a local health volunteer, did what she could, giving him medicine and applying a cold compress to his forehead, but to no avail; the 38°C fever would not relent.

The next morning, Aris was taken to a nearby health centre in Klaten, Central Java, where his blood was drawn and sent to a nearby city for tests. The results came back several days later: Aris had tested positive for Rubella.

His mother, Diah, was extremely worried; she had heard the virus was contagious and could cause cataracts or loss of hearing. But fortunately for Aris, Rubella is usually a mild disease for children. It is babies in the womb that face the greatest danger.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Pushing Haze Safety for Indonesian Kids

By: Vania Santoso – Innovations Adolescent and Youth Engagement Officer

Students walk along a street as they are released from school to return home earlier due to the haze in Jambi, Indonesia’s Jambi province © Antara Foto/Wahdi Setiawan/Reuters/29 September 2015

Palangkaraya: “Haze made me feel like I don’t want to be here anymore, ever!” said Gibran, a fourth-grader from Palangkaraya, East Kalimantan.

It wasn’t easy to listen to Gibran recount life during the 2015 haze in his corner of Indonesian Borneo, a weekslong event some have called the 21st century’s worst environmental disaster. In his village, the haze got so bad he and his family couldn’t stay. They were evacuated hundreds of kilometres away to Java, where they stayed for some two months with his grandmother.

Helping Jasmine

By: Felice Bakker, JPO, Child Protection

As part of UNICEF Indonesia’s approach to modelling scalable interventions, I am documenting good birth registration practices at our nine pilot sites across Indonesia.  On this occasion, I was able to meet with a family who benefited from UNICEF’s pilot in Makassar, where partnerships are facilitated with local NGO’s to register vulnerable children, including those with disabilities.

Jasmine (left) poses with the author (center), her two children and friend Irma at home in Makassar
Makassar: Jasmine* is quadriplegic. So are her two youngest children. Her three-year-old daughter Nur needs to be carried, while her five-year-old son Ali has to walk on all fours.

During antenatal visits to hospitals in years past, doctors told Jasmine that a disabled mother couldn’t possibly raise children the right way, advising her to use contraceptives to avoid future pregnancies. Needless to say, Jasmine disagreed.

To learn more about Jasmine’s life as a mother with disability and the challenges she faces, a colleague and I visited her at her home in Makassar, South Sulawesi. She greeted us warmly at the door, inviting us inside to meet her three children, whose laughter could already be heard from the street.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Empowering midwives with INFOBIDAN

By Cory Rogers, Communication Officer

Two midwives demonstrate how to access the information held on the INFOBIDAN website. © Cory Rogers / UNICEF / 2017

East Java: “With INFOBIDAN, we have the proof at our fingertips!” hollers Sri Utami, a village-based midwife in eastern Java, just making herself heard above the noise.

Steps away, seven women lead a boisterous chant – “INFOBIDAN, yes! INFOBIDAN yes!” – hoping to have already convinced the 100 midwives who have gathered to sign up for the new mobile application.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

#IniSuaraku: What Young People Think about Access to Reproductive Care

By Vania Santoso, Youth Engagement Officer

Young people got busy on their mobile phones to voice their opinions during the Adolescent Summit © UNICEFIndonesia/2017/Achmad Rifai

Yogyakarta: Each year, 1 June marks the Global Day of Parents, a day emphasizing the critical role of parents in the rearing of children. Children need to be nurtured and protected; no child should be a parent.

Thinking about this made me recall my experience at the National Adolescent Summit in Yogyakarta in March 2017 which aimed to address the issue of unplanned teen pregnancy.  

Some 70 young people, selected from 25 of Indonesia's 34 provinces, engaged in intense discussions on adolescent reproductive health access with representatives from the Government of Indonesia, UN agencies and NGOs. 

Naturally, in the "Twitter Capital of the World", debates spilled over onto social media. It was amazing to see young people boldly voicing their opinions and taking a stand on these sensitive issues, both online and offline.