RCE Yogyakarta's Contribution in Fighting COVID-19 through ESD Action

Soon after COVID-19 was declared as a national disaster in Indonesia on 14 April, 2020, the public's response ranged from completing everything 'as usual', to panic (expressed by panic buying as one example).

Responding to this situation, RCE Yogyakarta started with raising community awareness on COVID-19 by disseminating information from verified and reliable sources about the outbreak including symptoms to look out for.

This was done through the creation and distribution of leaflets, information dissemination using a mobile information car, and conducting face-to-face counseling while maintaining health protocols, i.e. wearing masks, and maintaining distance. These were all done using local languages.

On visiting primary health care facilities, RCE Yogyakarta found there was an urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE). Paying attention to the comprehensiveness in responding to socioeconomic problems while simultaneously also responding to the health sector, RCE Yogyakarta found alternative products for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises engaged in batik clothing manufacturing.

They then encouraged batik clothing manufacturers to produce PPE and fabric masks, which they then distributed to primary health facilities and promoted the use of fabric masks instead of surgery masks for non-healthcare workers. RCE Yogyakarta also produced and distributed face shields.

Facing the disruption of trade and supply chains due to a locally-initiated lockdown which resulted in the non-marketability of agricultural products, RCE Yogyakarta are looking for alternative ways by utilising information and communication technology. RCE Yogyakarta are inspiring students to assist agricultural product producers and traders to use WhatsApp to sell their merchandise. WhatsApp was chosen since it needs no additional cost whilst still provides opportunities for communication between producers and marketers and consumers, a cultural touch that cannot be left behind. This method of selling agricultural products is seeing a high uptake due to the support of communities who are trying to help small-, micro-, and medium-sized enterprises in facing the pandemic's effects.

RCE Yogyakarta also initiates the processing and packaging of perishable agricultural products. This began with the processing of guava into guava juice, packaging it, and then selling it to communities. The success of guava processing, packaging, and marketing inspires people to process, pack, and sell other perishable agricultural products such as vegetables, fish, and chickens.

(Photo credits: RCE Yogyakarta)