The Scourge of Smoke

First place in the Photo Contest for Climate Change Stories
Photo & Text:
Abriansyah Liberto
Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Forest and land fires in Indonesia occur almost every year. These events are usually massive between July and October, when the dry season arrives. The most affected areas are Kalimantan, Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra. This annual disaster has even become a regional issue in Southeast Asia. When fires occur, the smoke reaches neighboring countries. From Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand to the Philippines.

Over the years, forest fires have destroyed much of the surrounding natural habitat. These fires have also released large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. This will certainly further accelerate the rate of climate change.

The haze caused by forest fires has led to a significant deterioration in air quality. Pollutants in the haze can irritate the respiratory tract and eyes, and cause serious long-term health damage, such as lung damage.

In 2019, patients with acute respiratory infections (ARI) were most prevalent in South Sumatra. The total reached 291,807 people. Of the hundreds of thousands of people, one of them is Fadhila Rahma, who was diagnosed with respiratory disease by a doctor. Worse, Fadhila was also declared to have lung damage. The bitter reality experienced by Fadhila is thought to be due to the impact of forest fires that occurred in 2015.

From data released by, in the period 2009 to 2019, when forest fires were massive, there were 1,226 forest and land fires in Indonesia with 443,278 victims. Of these, 32 people were confirmed dead and missing, 373 people were injured, and 442,873 people were displaced.

First place in Photo Contest for Climate Change Stories
Photo and Text by Abriansyah Liberto
Text Editor: My Climate Team

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