Singapore offers help to Jambi, Indonesia to fight haze problem

Singapore offers help to Jambi, Indonesia tofight haze problem

6 March 2007

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Singapore — Singapore has offered to collaborate with a regency in Jambiprovince in Indonesia to fight the haze problem.

The Environment and Water Resources Ministry said this followed Indonesia’scommitment to reduce the number of hotspots by 50 percent this year and toallocate some S$110 million a year to achieve this.

The haze has been a recurring problem in the region – affecting air qualityand the economy of countries for the last 10 years.

Giving an update of a ministerial meeting held last month, Environment and WaterResources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim said that under Indonesia’s National Plan ofAction (National PoA) to fight the haze problem, the country aims to halve thenumber of hotspots this year.

It has also budgeted more than S$100 million or over US$65 million a year toimplement its programmes.

He said: “Indonesia identified 35 fire-prone areas in 8 provinces includingJambi, Riau, South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan to deal with fires there.Singapore has offered to work with a regency in the Jambi Province to enhanceits capacity to prevent and mitigate land and forest fires.”

The area identified is the Muaro Jambi Regency, and the National EnvironmentAgency is working with the leaders there to develop a Master Plan to prevent andmitigate fires.

“The Master Plan for Muaro Jambi Regency will be aligned with theIndonesia’s National PoA. More importantly, the Jambi Provincial Government willown the Master Plan. If successfully implemented in Jambi, the Master Plan canserve as a model for other fire-prone districts in Indonesia,” said DrYaacob.

Under the Master Plan, the Environment and Water Resources Minister said thefocus would be on fire prevention and fire suppression. Singapore would assistthe Jambi government to obtain financial and technical resources, includingmatching agencies to projects.

Other elements under the Master Plan include legislation and enforcement, earlywarning and monitoring, as well as regional and international collaboration.

Dr Yaacob added that Malaysia has indicated it would assist the implementationof the PoA by undertaking a number of projects, including working withplantation companies to implement zero burning practices and other preventivemeasures.

He said: “Malaysia also liked the Jambi-Singapore Collaboration model andwanted to know more about it. Hence I have invited Malaysian officials to joinmy officers when we develop the Master Plan jointly with Jambi and IndonesiaState Ministry of Environment officials.”

Dr Yaacob said Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia have also pledged over S$76,000 orUS$50,000 each to the ASEAN Haze Fund.

And he hopes this will spur other ASEAN members, and international organisations,to do the same.

Singapore was the first to pledge that amount at the 1st Ministerial SteeringCommittee Meeting on Transboundary Haze Pollution last year.

The Ministry said Indonesia would also get international and regional assistancefrom organisations and NGOs to implement its programmes to fight forest fires.

The Asian Development Bank, for example, has announced it would providetechnical expertise and funding for some projects under the Jambi Master Plan.

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