From an urban perspective, challenges related to water and sanitation will magnify in the future due to climate change and an ever growing city population needing to share already insufficient and poorly managed resources. This is even more the case in the developing world. Habitat III will address these challenges, an agenda item which we will explore through Roanne van Voorst’s ethnographic account of life in Bantaran Kali, a slum of Jakarta that suffers from regular floods and poor water supply and sanitation.
Jakarta and many other regions of Indonesia deal with problems concerning water supply, sanitation and flooding as a result of fragmented policy responsibilities, water privatisation, and disorganised funding. Climate change and rapid urbanization will increase the pressure on the existing water supply and flood management system. Water pollution is widespread on Java, home to a population of 141 million people that often faces a poor quality water supply and sanitation. A lack of access to an improved water source, sanitation and sewerage in urban areas poses a significant burden for the poor in the many slums. Particularly Jakarta deals with frequent river and sea flooding, which exacerbate the complex socio-economic problems of the city and the poor quality of water supply and sanitation.
Roanne van Voorst
Tonight we welcome Roanne van Voorst, who spent a year in a Jakarta, to research how people protect their physical and mental well-being when their assets and health are continually threatened by flooding. Many of the residents of Bantaran Kali had their houses and in-house shops flooded three times during the period in which her fieldwork took place. Many residents fell ill due to the polluted floodwater, and most of them experienced huge economic losses as a result of these floods. Some lost all their savings, while others saw their furniture and work-assets damaged.
Between 2009 and 2011 Roanne conducted fieldwork and lived in a neighbourhood she calls ‘Bantaran Kali’: a slum that is built on the banks of a river and that is flooded several times a year. During her fieldwork in Bantaran Kali, she participated in the daily lives of her informants and experienced some of the risks that are inherent to it. Her book De beste plek ter wereld (“The best place on earth”) is based on her PhD research in Jakarta.