Flood preparedness initiatives of high-risk communities of Jakarta

from Asian Disaster Preparedness Center
Published on 30 Jun 2010 View Original

Flooding has become a significant urban problem for Indonesia this past decade. Excessive rainfall caused extreme events such as five-year floods, torrential floods and flash floods, and extreme tidal backflows have inundated the low-lying coastal area. Uncontrolled population growth in urban areas, poor land use planning, the lack of understanding among city stakeholders and communities about floods and its disaster risk, and a poor level of knowledge about disaster reduction initiatives and preparedness are the important reasons for the flood events becoming disasters. What steps can a megapolis like Jakarta take to be prepared for the worsening floods?

Jakarta is probably the best example of how challenging it is to attempt to lower the disaster risk of flooding. Jakarta Metropolitan City as the capital of the Republic Indonesia is the country’s economic power house. The economic growth of Jakarta in 2006, for example, contributed more than 17% to the national GDP, and 60% of the nation’s money circulation is in Jakarta. However, it is very prone to flood disasters from annual floods and five-year inundation due to excessive rainfall and flash floods along the rivers systems that pass through the mainland. The flood of 2007, for example, inundated about 30% of the Jakarta mainland area and paralyzed life in many places.

How can flooding be so severe in such an important city in Indonesia? Part of the reason has to do with geography. Indonesia is in the tropics, stretching from 6°08’ N latitude to 11°15’ S latitude. It gets year-round rainfall from the warm water surrounding the world’s largest archipelago, with additional rainfall coming from climate phenomena such as the Asian monsoon, the Australian monsoon, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, and the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ADPC, 2000). The other part of the potential for disaster comes from the vulnerability of settlements located in high-risk areas.