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Return to the field sees core ecological research press on

30 April 2021

With 17 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Indonesia, and more than six million people fully vaccinated, our Makassar team is stepping back into the field to progress our critical ecological health research.

This month, working in pairs and receiving negative antigen tests before entering communities, the team resumed tracking temperature and water levels in our study communities. They re-engaged with equipment that has been placed around neighbourhoods, downloading data from thermal dataloggers, and checking rain gauges.

Our environmental monitoring is critical to demonstrate the impacts of our intervention in informal settlements. Our teams regularly monitor and analyse the prevalence of faecal pathogens, vector abundance and microbial communities, some of which make us sick, and are too small to be seen by the naked eye.

RISE Indonesia Coordinator Fitriyanty Awaluddin said the program is finding innovative ways to continue working in a safe way. ‘We have had a lot of intense rain and flooding here in Makassar recently. While it makes the physical work more difficult, it’s even more important we continue our ecological and environmental research, so we can continue to build evidence that can lead to better policies and investments for informal settlement communities', she said.

Our teams are conducting outdoor research only, with no house visits, using RISE’s rigorous COVID safety protocol developed for our demonstration site, Batua. There, water sampling continues with COVID-safe fieldwork and expediting water samples to the RISE laboratory at Hasanuddin University.

Batua results are starting to paint a clear picture of the infrastructure’s performance, which has been tested by the many flooding events that Makassar has experienced this year.

Seizing opportunities for steady field research when it is safe to do so with our communities is enabling RISE to press on with the successful delivery of planetary health research and water-sensitive interventions in a COVID-19 world.