Haze has led to many social impacts in Indonesia as well as countries in the South East Asian region.
Indonesia greatest impact has closest to the haze. Many homes of the vulnerable- young, elderly and pregnant – had to be relocated, causing inconvenience for them. Besides that, the education of school children were affected as many schools had to be close due to hazardous levels of haze. Businesses and schools across the region close due to the haze, crippling many low-income families and prompting them to fall back into poverty. Approximately 5 million students have been impacted by school closures in 2015.
Haze forced school closures for up to 34 days, resulting in USD 34 million in costs. 14 In some instances, schools closed for weeks at a time, obliging teachers to accommodate take-home assignments. Conditions were worst in October 2015, impacting 24,773 schools and 4,692,537 students. Child-care costs and foregone wages increase when parents must care for children normally in school. These long-term, sustained school closures could contribute to weaker graduation rates if reclaiming lost school days becomes burdensome.
I had personally experience haze during my school days in secondary school and junior college. The impact on which haze had on our school curriculum was harsh and classes had to be relocated to air-conditioned rooms and some classes like Physical Education (PE) even had to be cancelled. Both events were on the year of my major examinations – O’levels and A’levels and many students, including myself, were anxious if the haze would affect our sitting for the examination. Schools did not close despite the PSI hitting to a high of over 400 (hazardous) in 2015, however, schools were prepared in the case that closure of schools were to happen.
Despite all the negative impacts, it has brought about the “Singaporean spirit” and sense of community in Singapore as organisations and people give out free mask to fellow citizens. While there were reports of people cashing in by re-selling N95 masks at a higher price during the last haze crisis in 2013, one hardware shop is doing the exact opposite this time round.
Local kindness movement Stand Up For Singapore kick started a fund-raising campaign called “I Will Be Your Shelter” to buy air purifiers and filters for the elderly and needy in the North Bridge Road area. It raised about $6,000 through crowdfunding site Indiegogo and donations as of October 2015 and distributed 40 air filters and 10 purifiers to the residents on September 19.