Jan 10, 2020

Environmental Groups Urge Jakarta to Collaborate with Surrounding Towns

Jakarta, Indonesia must develop long-term plans with surrounding towns amidst record flooding. 

flood control

Jakarta, Indonesia must develop long-term plans with surrounding towns if it is to keep pace with the growing threats from climate change, according to green groups.

Since Dec. 31, some of the heaviest rainfall recorded has killed at least 60 people and displaced nearly 175,000, reported Reuters

“Indonesia has got enough resources to deal with these problems,” said Leonard Simanjuntak, country director for Greenpeace Indonesia. “However, for decades, political leaders never really had any consistency in implementing long-term plans for flood management.” 

Southeast Asia’s biggest city is located by the coast and built on a swampy plain, with 40% lying below sea level, according to Reuters. Most residents and businesses rely on wells that drain underground aquifers for their water supplies, which causes the city to sink by 2 to 4 inches each year.

Although more than 10 rivers flow through the capital, the water catchment areas and forests around it have been largely converted over decades for residential and agricultural use, reported Reuters. The capacity of Jakarta’s rivers has also shrunk because of sedimentation, poor waste management and illegal settlements, clogging remaining waterways during heavy rains as a result.

Jakarta’s authorities must dredge and clean up its rivers and waterways, and help communities access water without huge, uncontrolled groundwater extraction, according to Milag San Jose-Ballesteros, director of East, Southeast Asia and Oceania for the C40 Cities network. Many cities are considering turning concrete drainage and grey infrastructure back into flood-plains.

“The city needs to collaborate with surrounding areas,” said Hidayah Hamzah, a forests expert at think-tank World Resources Institute Indonesia.

The rainfall at the start of 2020 is one of the most extreme events since records began in 1866, reported Indonesia’s state weather agency.

The government has decided to move the administrative functions of the capital to Borneo island from 2024 as a means to help reduce population pressure on Jakarta. It has also pledged to spend $40 billion to save the slowly sinking city over the next decade, according to the Guardian

Plans to improve Jakarta’s flood defenses include building two dams and working on the city’s biggest river. President Joko Widodo has blamed the flooding on delays to these infrastructure projects caused by land acquisition and other issues, reported Reuters.