Inside Jakarta's Ciracas Sports Hall, which has been turned into a shelter for homeless people, on May 1. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Clean Water, Housing, Health: Three Essential Services During Coronavirus Crisis

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

MAY 04, 2020

Jakarta. Access to clean water, housing and health service will be key if Indonesia is going to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, or YLBHI, director Asfinawati said on Monday.

"The government has to pay more attention to these three elements – clean water, housing and health service. They will be key during this pandemic," she said in an online press conference.

A recent survey showed 88.4 percent of Indonesians are worried that the country's health system will be unable to handle a full-blown coronavirus pandemic.

A literature study, which formed part of the survey, also suggested lack of testing will be a major obstacle for the government in its handling of the crisis.

The online survey and literature study was conducted by the Amrta Institute, Lokataru Foundation, Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, Jakarta Legal Aid (LBH Jakarta), Rujak Center for Urban Studies and Urban Poor Consortium in 34 provinces.

A total of 1,110 respondents were involved. 

"Indonesia has only done a tiny number of testing. We've only tested 0.03 percent of the population. Other countries [in the survey] have tested more than 0.5 percent–3 percent of their population," Amrta Institute director Nila Ardhieanie said.

Nila said the study compared Indonesia's handling of the pandemic with nine other countries that have the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the world, the United States, Spain, Italy, France, German, Turkey, Russia, Iran and China.

A low number of testing, she said, means the government will not have accurate data on the cases.

Asfinawati said she regretted the government's decision to conduct blood-based rapid testing to detect Covid-19 cases. 

"The blood-based rapid testing produces inaccurate results. The government should have gone for the swab test instead," Asfinawati said.

The survey also showed that five percent of the respondents were having difficulties accessing clean water.

Though the number seems small, Asfinawati said it might indicate a bigger problem, especially since people need to wash their hands regularly to prevent coronavirus transmission.

"How are they going to wash their hands when they don't have water? During a pandemic like this, access to clean water is vital, it's part of people's right to life," she said.

Asfinawati is also worried that many families are stuck inside tiny houses or flats during the pandemic.

"A patient under observation [PDP] or person under surveillance [ODP] won't be able to self-isolate in such tiny spaces," she said.

Class Problem

Ubedilah Badrun, a sociologist from the State University of Jakarta, said the government should start paying attention to the middle class in society since they face their own set of problems during the pandemic. 

"The government's policies during the pandemic are mostly tailored for the lower and upper classes. Middle-class families have their own problems, including the possibility of sliding down the social ladder and joining the lower class," he said.

The sociologist also said that since most social interaction has moved online during the pandemic, the government should start providing free internet for everyone. 

Ubedilah said social interaction for most people is now limited to interacting with other close family members. 

"Indonesians are normally part of a large social group. Limited social interaction will cause a great deal of stress for them. Unfortunately, the government has not addressed this sociological impact," Ubedilah said.

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