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2007.04.30
* Fighting indifference and ignorance to tackle avian flu in Indonesia * 26 Feb 2007 Following a muddy trail behind his home in Central Java, Wiyatno returns to his chicken farm. It is now a dark and empty place, very different from the days it housed more than one thousand chickens. Wiyatno had his entire flock slaughtered in 2005, after avian flu spread rapidly through this coop. The culling was a financial blow. He says many people here see avian flu only as an economic nuisance, not a life-threatening concern. SOUNDBITE (Bahasa Indonesia) WIYATNO, Poultry farmer: “Most of the community takes it for granted. Because they think avian flu only strikes chickens and not people.” But in terms of human cost, Indonesians have suffered worst of all. More than 90 people have been infected with avian flu. On average, three out of every four with the illness have died. UNICEF and its partners have been working to raise awareness of the dangers of avian flu. In addition to TV and radio spots, UNICEF works with local communities in what is called “participatory learning and action,” or PLA. Community members compose songs, dramas and posters that locals can relate to. Srirahayu is a kindergarten teacher, but she also tends to a cage of chickens at home. She believes the community approach is working. SOUNDBITE (Bahasa Indonesia SRIRIHAYU, Kindergarten teacher: “The PLA has an impact. One thing I noticed is that if we put into practice those messages we learned from the PLA, it will actually help the economy. The community has learned to identify the symptoms of bird flu and to report it immediately.” But many still say they don’t know enough. Even just down the road from Srirahayu’s home, chickens and ducks roam freely. Their owners show little concern about their poultry getting infected. SOUNDBITE (Bahasa Indonesia) DARSIH, Village resident: “I don’t really know anything about avian flu. I just know it’s contagious. I’m not worried about it. All my chickens look healthy.” Appearances that may be deceiving… and potentially deadly.
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