The United States announced a series of efforts across the United States Government to support Indonesian activities to address forest fires and the effects on human health of the resultant haze, as well as support Indonesian Government efforts to prevent future forest fires. This U.S. partnership with the Indonesian Government will help provide immediate assistance to populations affected by haze and smoke, improve the effectiveness of current fire suppression efforts, deter future forest fires, address economic and social pressures that result in clearing and burning of forested lands and peat lands, and assist Indonesia in its objectives to reduce carbon emissions through minimizing forest and peat fires.
Immediate Medical Support and Public Health Technical Assistance
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) will provide immediate humanitarian medical assistance for fire and El Nino impacted households in some of the most affected areas. Initial funding of $150,000 will support health care facilities’ ability to respond to haze-related respiratory illnesses and support Indonesian national and local public awareness campaigns, and later activities could include addressing water scarcity in select communities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will coordinate with OFDA to offer technical assistance in priority areas identified by the Ministry of Health which could include public health technical guidance for haze-related health problems, health system support and emergency management.
Immediate Fire Suppression Support
USAID will provide $2,750,000 in assistance to support Indonesian firefighting efforts. This includes support to ground based firefighting crews in the provinces hardest hit by the fires, especially Central Kalimantan, to supply them with high pressure pumps, fire retardant clothing, face masks, and other related equipment to more effectively fight fires. It also includes support to supply U.S. Forest Service (USFS) technical experts to help in fire investigations to deter and prevent more fires, firefighting management and operations, and provision of needed satellite imagery.
Justice Sector Training
The U.S. Department of Justice plans to provide support through the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training for investigators, prosecutors and judges to support President Jokowi’s efforts to enhance enforcement of forestry laws and prosecute violations.
USAID Forest Governance and Fire Prevention Efforts
USAID/Indonesia is currently implementing, or designing, several programs that directly address the issues underlying the ongoing forest fires:
Forestry Program: This program supports conservation of more than 8 million hectares of forests in Aceh, Kalimantan and Papua by supporting transparent and accountable land use planning, permitting and licensing practices that will direct development away from fire-prone peat and primary forests, thereby reducing the incidence of peat fires. The Forestry Program works with palm oil and timber concession holders to improve fire prevention and reduce deforestation. The Forestry Program also builds capacity of local farmers to increase their agricultural productivity, stop forest clearing with fire and reduce expansion into forest areas. The Forestry Program will provide the public, the private sector and smallholders information on the laws and the reasons for avoiding a burn in the near term.
U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Technical Assistance: USAID provides USFS technical experts to improve Government of Indonesia (GOI) efforts in peatland ecosystem restoration and using geospatial information systems for land use planning and fire prevention.
Support for Incident Command Systems (ICS): USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance recently provided training to Indonesian officials in implementing the Incident Command Systems that can be a critical component of fire response.
Peat Fire Mitigation Project: Through USAID support, this program is refining and implementing a recently developed tool that will assist local governments and other stakeholders in identifying areas that are prone to fire – before the fires occur – and institute an early warning system. This project will also be working with district and provincial stakeholders to rehabilitate damaged peatland, identify livelihood options that minimize fire risk, train local firefighters, and mainstream land use and development plans that prevent and mitigate forest fires.
Support for OneMap Project: USAID supports implementation of OneMap, an authoritative, science-based map showing carbon-rich forests and peatlands to allow verification of carbon emission reduction efforts.
National Forest Policy and Advocacy Program: This program advances policy reform and public advocacy for land use policies that reduce deforestation and ensuing fire incidents. This includes identifying conflicting laws that encourage deforestation, policy measures that can be advanced in support of forest conservation and encouraging Indonesian civil society to advocate for these policy changes and build a local constituency for conservation.
Support for Smallholders
USAID will partner with Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) member companies to support commitments made under IPOP, including support to smallholders. One collaborative activity would assess the capacity and training needs of small palm oil farmers to increase their productivity and obtain certification under the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard and pilot activities in partnership with the companies.