Flooding and Poverty in Jakarta
Citizens of Jakarta rang in the new decade with fervor and enjoyment, accompanied by slowly rising brown floodwaters. The citizens ascended to the streets, but before long some found themselves swept up in one of Indonesia’s worst floods in the past 150 years – one that the country could not have prepared for. The floods have displaced over 400,000 people and 66 people have died within the first week of 2020. But importantly, this crisis of flooding in Jakarta has disproportionately affected the impoverished regions of the city, which received little public attention.
Increasing Population Affecting Poverty
Jakarta, like many quickly expanding metropolitan areas today, faces the challenge of a rapidly increasing population accompanied by many migrants to the city – a number which experts expect to reach 70 percent of Indonesia’s population by 2025. This rapidly expanding population makes it difficult for the current infrastructure and housing to adequately accommodate the increasing demand, therefore increasing construction rates and skyrocketing real estate prices. As a result, the poorest citizens are living dangerously close to areas that flood almost every year under normal conditions.
Adverse Weather Patterns Creating an Impoverished Population
Unlike typical cities, half of Jakarta lies under sea level. The city has been sinking roughly 10 centimeters every year due to years of uncontrolled groundwater draining by large companies. This sinking conjoined with regular seasonal flooding creates enormous problems in terms of designing infrastructure. Further, increasingly dramatic typical weather patterns in Jakarta have made the extreme weather events less predictable, specifically flooding in Jakarta. The combination of dramatic weather events and poverty in Jakarta creates a cyclic system where temporary aid seems to be adequate when in reality it only serves as a temporary fix, allowing the cycle of destruction to propagate.
The government of Indonesia has taken measures to house displaced residents of Jakarta. Additionally, most of the electricity in the area is up and running again. However, the long term goals of President Joko Wikodo reflect a sentiment that does not seem to include the protection of citizens and the prevention of these incidents. Instead of continuing plans for a sea wall to protect the city from rising sea levels, President Wikodo intends to move the capital to a less populated, drier site on Borneo island. Though this might be a valid idea, this all but abandons the poorer communities in Jakarta, leaving these citizens behind without the resources to move.
Aid to Reduce Current Flooding in Jakarta
In the meantime, many aid measures occurred to help with the most recent round of flooding in Jakarta. All of the local shelters have sufficient food and medical supplies to harbor the 400,000 displaced people. Moreover, most of Jakarta’s citizens returned to their homes by the second week of January 2020. Aid methods, ranging from foreign financial and medical support to internal medical workers, continue to prove an effective yet temporary fix for the greater problem of the flooding in Jakarta.
– Anna Sarah Langlois