Working with the World Bank in Jakarta to alleviate flooding and fight climate change


June 16, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    David Evans/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Jakarta's annual floods deluge and destroy property and displace families. They are especially harmful to the city's poorest neighborhoods. Mercy Corps and the World Bank are working to mitigate these floods and the impact of climate change. Photo: David Evans/Mercy Corps
  <span class="field-credit">
    Shirine Bakhat/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Garbage-choked waterways in Jakarta's slums contribute to the city's yearly flooding. Photo: Shirine Bakhat/Mercy Corps
  <span class="field-credit">
    Abbey Jones/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps Indonesia Country Director Sean Granville-Ross (second from left) speaks at the meeting with World Bank and neighborhood officials in Pluit, North Jakarta. Photo: Abbey Jones/Mercy Corps

Flooding in Jakarta — Indonesia's capital and biggest city — is a yearly occurrence that destroys property and displaces families, particularly in poor areas. The World Bank’s Jakarta Emergency Dredging Initiative — a $150 million project expected to begin implementation later in 2011 — intends to alleviate impacts of the city's annual flooding through the priority rehabilitation and dredging of existing floodways, drains and retentions. But it was a visit from Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Managing Director, to one of the Mercy Corps Climate Resilient Cities-Kelurahan Empowerment Initiative (CRC-KEI) sites that created a new perception for the organization.

Mohieldin — along with five other members of the World Bank — recently met with Mercy Corps Country Director Sean Granville-Ross, Mercy Corps’s CRC-KEI project team, neighborhood officials and other stakeholders in order to ascertain local understanding of climate change initiatives and how communities respond to the impacts of climate change.

“A program can only be successful if the community is involved and participates,” Mohieldin said.

Pluit, an impoverished neighborhood in North Jakarta, views the climate change initiative as very crucial to their livelihood because this community is especially prone to flooding due to increasing rainfall, inundation from the sea and insufficient drainage systems.

“This was an important meeting as we strive to get government and donors to understand how communities and local governments are key stakeholders in urban climate change resiliency,” said Granville-Ross, “how they should be involved in planning, budgeting and what are the sorts of interventions that are important to communities to address the issues of climate change.”

Residents committed to maintain the drains from the Jakarta Emergency Dredging Initiative after dredging, as well as to continue their current efforts of picking up trash to mitigate impacts of climate change.

However, many citizens said their effort remains insufficient on its own, because much of the trash comes from upstream of the village. Residents also cited trash from street vendors as a challenge to the projects. Many street vendors are not permanent residents of the neighborhood, but migrants from other cities who come to Jakarta looking for jobs and lack connection to the community. Because of this, they do not feel a vested interest in the community’s well-being regarding climate change and often discard trash in the streets near drainage systems, creating problems for both neighborhood residents and ongoing climate change initiatives.

Despite this, most community members said they believe the Jakarta Emergency Dredging Initiative Mercy Corps' empowerment initiative will reduce the impacts of climate change, especially flooding in the neighborhood. The support for the project from the community was overwhelmingly positive, with members restating their dedication to maintaining the project.