PAIR preliminary research phase nears completion

The first preliminary findings to come out of the AIC’s all new bilateral and interdisciplinary research are now in.


Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) teams recently presented preliminary findings from their pilot projects, which are running from May to November this year.

These updates, the first illustration of this groundbreaking research in action, will both broaden each research group’s understanding of the context PAIR is working in, and inform the design of the next phase of research (launching in December).

There has of course been far less face-to-face and field time than initially planned for, but the show has gone on via myriad data sources and communication avenues.

Below are preliminary findings and progress highlights from the four teams.


Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on young people in South Sulawesi

The Young People, Health and Wellbeing team is looking at social, health and economic issues faced by young people as a result of the pandemic.

Using village-level and other data from Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS), researchers have found compelling trends in health vulnerability in South Sulawesi, especially in the three PAIR districts: Pangkep, Barru and Maros.

  • More than four people in every village in Pangkep district are living with a physical disability, including an unusually high proportion of severe cases. Deafness, blindness and muteness are also more prevalent than the national average.
  • People of working age (17 to 54 year olds) are less aware of, and less compliant with, social-distancing rules than older people, but, overall, awareness and compliance is still quite high.

Next steps are to use Basic Health Survey (Riskesdas) data to assess the economic vulnerability of people in at-risk health groups, and devise and conduct an online survey of health workers.

Read more about this project.


Unlocking the potential of the South Sulawesi seaweed industry

The Commodities group is seeking to understand the current state of the province’s seaweed industry with the aim of providing advice for upgrading it.

COVID-19 will factor into the analysis, incorporating, in particular, its effects on the sector and agricultural activities

They used a wide range of secondary data, including satellite imaging and COVID-19 figures and data, to analyse drivers, trends, and other elements of South Sulawesi’s seaweed value chain, from cultivation to exports and including socio-political and economic dimensions.

  • A key finding was how much production and profit varied from place to place depending on factors such as sea depth, temperature, rainfall and proximity to rivers, plus economic and social factors. For example, in areas where seaweed grows only for short periods each year, farmers can pay up to half their would-be profit on seeds, whereas farmers able to grow year round are self sufficient in this regard.
  • In search of alternative products where seaweed could be used, researchers have also examined new methods of processing seaweed for bioethanol production. Using new assessment approaches, they found that ozone and fungi pretreatments are both viable alternatives to the currently favoured, but very expensive, acid method.

Looking ahead, various government and industry seaweed organisations are partnering with PAIR to help researchers better understand seaweed value chains and local farming practices, including household-level production, livelihoods and economics.

Read more about this project.


Identifying gaps that might limit the impact of South Sulawesi’s first railway

The Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain group is focused on the province’s new railway line, aiming to identify gaps in the planning and implementation of the project that might limit the benefits it provides to communities along its path.

They have analysed a variety of data sets including spatial information, freight demand and capacity estimates; and are carrying out a gap analysis of governance structures around the railway.

Progress to date:

  • One clear gap discovered is the absence of planning for the railway line in the smart city master plans for Makassar and Parepare (the cities at either end of the railway). Researchers are organising a focus group discussion between the relevant national, provincial and local authorities to see these plans integrated.
  • A landslide and flood hazard assessment along the path of the railway, using geographic data. The railway is mostly located in lowland areas which have potential for floods and landslides.
  • Demographic and land-use data has been identified and is now under analysis. A key aim here is to understand the railway’s impact on vulnerable groups.

One function of the land-use data, together with information on local industries and the relative costs of road versus rail transportation, is to inform freight demand scenarios as researchers work towards an estimation of future freight demand on the railway.

Read more about this project.


Understanding the aspirations of young people in rural South Sulawesi

The Young People and Development research team aims to identify barriers standing between SulSel’s youth and their aspirations.

As well as a demographic study, baseline work has included a spatial and landscape analysis of the three districts along the railway line. The area surrounding Makassar (Maros), for example, has seen a significant shift over the past 20 years from agricultural landscapes to increasingly urban ones, including through the expansion of an airport and the arrival of Sulawesi’s first railway and other transport infrastructure. Impacts of this shift include:

  • a huge increase in young women filling education, healthcare and other service roles, and an exodus of men from those fields.
  • the absence of young women in fisheries and seaweed jobs
  • a shift in the employment of young men from agriculture to transportation between 2011-2019.

Next steps include more investigation into the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the above points; legal and policy analysis; and a study of the influence of the media on various changes.

Read more about this project


Stand by for more insights later in the year when final reports come in.

Picture of Marlene Millott

PAIR Program Officer
The Australia-Indonesia Centre

Picture of Tim Fitzgerald

Digital Communications Manager
The Australia-Indonesia Centre