Due to the long-lasting fires and a huge amount of smoke, the people of Borneo could hardly think of a normal everyday life during the last months. Our Indonesian colleagues wore breathing masks in the office, while looking out of the office window in Palanka Raya everything was covered by gray smoke and fog.
The smoke produced by the fires has serious consequences for the health of local people. Thousands of citizens suffer from various respiratory diseases, infections and other illnesses such as nausea, shortness of breath and cough. Schools remained closed for extended periods between July and October.
In the dry season, which usually lasts from March to October, the risk of forest fires on the islands Sumatra and Borneo is very high. There are several causes that lead to the outbreak of the fire. Many fires are caused by humans, they were mostly laid to expose land for the cultivation of palm oil. Often it is difficult to identify clear responsibilities in retrospect. On the basis of the current report, however, it becomes clear that the fires in the region around Palanka Raya have also increased this year due to the rising demand for building land. The government’s plan to build a new capital on Borneo is increasing speculation with land. Land is illegally „cleaned“ and turned into building land.
Based on a special report from our project partner Borneo Institute (BIT) we want to give you an insight into the situation on site.
Here you can find the detailed report (in English):