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Kalimantan Haze Shelter Program

The Haze Shelter Program was started in order to protect the children, elderly and firefighters of Kalimantan susceptible to the toxic harm.

Photo of Wally Tham
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Check out what we've done so far; The Haze Shelter Program was started in order to protect the children, elderly and firefighters of Kalimantan susceptible to the toxic harm in the air caused by the peatland fires in 2015. It aims to ensure the safety of the Kalimantan people from the haze caused by forest fires. After witnessing the ecological disaster of 2015, Big Red Button went back to Palangkaraya to partner with Ranu Welum and create Indonesia’s first haze shelter. With them, we created Indonesia’s first haze shelter, concrete 2000 square foot space with 2 stage air filtration systems. This shelter is large in that it can house 40 adults or 60 children while holding supplies for 200 people, and has a filtering system that reduces PM2.5 particles by 95-99%. This shelter was a culmination of 2 years of R&D, and cost $20,000 to set up. A deployable haze shelter was also designed to be used for village housing. Created from locally sourced bamboo and rattan, Little Nest is environmentally friendly and sustainable for mass DIY production. Shower curtains are used as the shell, while a fan filter overhead blows clean air into the nest, pushing out CO2 and humidity. Little Nest sits at USD 250. Big Red Button has personally funded these endeavors, but going into the future, specifically with adaptation plans for the haze shelter, more funding is required in order to bring the project to a larger scale and make it even more sustainable.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

2015 saw one of Indonesia’s worst forest fires, with about 857 million tonnes of carbon released into the air from the burning of Kalimantan’s peatland and forestry. Our beneficiaries were the many affected, from the local community to the neighboring countries, such as Malaysia and Singapore due to the deadly haze. With PSI levels of 2900, people faced a fatal and ever-present threat to their health and wellbeing.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Besides being Indonesia’s first haze shelter, the Little Nest is environmentally friendly and sustainable for mass DIY production as it was and can be created from locally sourced bamboo and rattan. Futhermore, with the advent of El Nino, Big Red Button is working with Ranu Welum to scale the number of Hard Shelters and Little Nests so that we can protect as many people as possible should disaster strike again.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
  • Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Big Red Button tells stories for change and sometimes we get into the actual solutions too. StandUp For Singapore is our public intervention arm that rallies volunteers and creates public events and content to move the needle on persistent problems of inequality and race-related issues.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

We had been working on the Indonesian haze affecting vulnerable people in Singapore since 2013. But in 2015 the levels of pollution were double and we saw many Singaporeans reacting to Indonesia with anger. We also saw a few who responded with compassion and decided to join in and break through the cycle of blame. 2013: 2015:

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

The program aims to maintain Peace by ensuring the safety of the Kalimantan people from the haze caused by forest fires. In addition to the prior aid of specialized masks given in 2015, the haze shelter is a sustainable way for the affected citizens to survive during haze conditions PSI 2000 and below. Using locally-sourced materials such as bamboo and rattan for the ‘Little Nest’ (deployable haze shelters), no unnecessary environmental costs are being incurred which is good for the Planet.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Ranu Welum is a Dayak (Indigenous People Group) advocacy based in Kalimantan. They were instrumental in gathering local volunteers, meeting with local community leaders and the day to day running of our shelter.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The Dayak community is very proud of their long history of protecting the forests and living in harmony with nature. The young people in Ranu Welum are educated and passionate in finding their voice and preserving their land from destruction from slash and burn practices.

Geographic Focus

Palangkaraya, Kalimantan. Indonesia.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We believe with the prototypes built and tested, we are ready to improve on designs as we educate the local population on clean air safety and shelter deployment.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Irene Márquez

Dear Wally Tham,

Your proposal is very interesting, although for those of us who were not familiarized with the problem, it is not simple to understand.

Many questions come to mind, that maybe you could answer. For instance, what kind of filters do you use to retain/capture CO2? What would happen once the filter is saturated, do you need to buy a new ventilator or just a replacement would do? Is this shelter equipped with some kind of indicator that would let users know everything is working as it should?

We were also wondering if you have developed a plan for those shelters that stop working while being used.

We hope you don´t mind us asking, but we are very intrigued and would love to learn more about your problem.

Looking forward to hear back from you.

Photo of Wally Tham

Hi Irene!

Here’s a little video we did a while back to explain the Haze to our community.

1. The haze is made up of particles that become airborne during forest fires. The ones we focus on are sized 2.5 Microns (PM2.5).

The WHO deems this sized particle important to keep out of our respiratory system because they are small enough to enter our blood stream and cause long term health issues like cancer and strokes.

So we are not focussed on gasss like CO2, but PM2.5 particles.

2. Presently, the plan is to have each family take 2 filters with them. We estimate the filters will last them about 2-3 months of PSI 300-500 conditions. But we have a team monitoring air quality at our headquarters and posting them here regularly:

We will make some estimations from the air conditions and check with our beneficiaries if the filters still have pass through. If not, we will ask them to come get replacements.

But we do have resource constraints.

Presently we have been funding the work ourselves and have limited stock of filters.

If you’d like to learn more of what we have done so far, do watch this video too:

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