A fisherman carries bags of mussels, recently caught in the bay off of Jakarta. As a result of severe levels of water pollution in the bay, the mussels are now laced with toxins. Many fisherman being unable to sell seafood, resulting in large amounts of unemployment and continued health concerns.
An Indonesian fisherman stands in a flooded area of Jakarta’s port.
A man points to a line left during high tide in the recent floods in a community in Kampung Apung, in west Jakarta.
A boy looks out onto a destroyed home in one of the slum communities in central Jakarta. It was destroyed during the January floods which displaced approximately 20,000 people. The slum communities are at great risk as many of them are found lining the city’s waterways making them extremely vulnerable to flooding.
A small passenger bat crosses a canal in the main urban area of Jakarta. The canals were originally built to help the city cope with flooding however they have fallen into disrepair and are now clogged with refuse and human waste that is discarded into the waterway.
A man walks past a river that has been covered with refuse in a slum community in Muara Baru. Water pollution is prevalent throughout the city as local residents discard household waste directly into the city’s waterways. Floods also wash large large amounts of refuse into communities, completely blocking the flow of water.
An Indonesian woman washes dishes in a slum community on the edge of a polluted reservoir in northern Jakarta. It is estimated over 25% of Indonesians live in slum areas, with more than 5 million people living in slum areas in the greater Jakarta area.
A woman washes herself in the Ciliwung River, a waterway that has been described as one of the most polluted rivers in the world. The river often floods, breaking its banks sending its polluted water into the nearby communities.
A fisherman waves away flies from his recent catch of fish in the mangroves of north-west Jakarta. Much of the city’s seafood is hazardous to eat as severe water pollution has led to contamination in the food chain.
Many toilets in Jakarta feed directly into the city’s waterways, resulting in risks to the health of local populations in the area.
A government worker collects trash from a polluted drainage channel in central Jakarta. The city’s waterways are all heavily polluted and were recently listed as some of the worst in Asia by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Children play in the remains of an abandoned building in a flooded district in the northern port area of Jakarta. Almost 40% of Jakarta lies below sea-level leading to flooding in many areas, even during the dry season.
A group of your boys gather outside an abandoned building in central Jakarta. Numerous buildings are found abandoned on the banks of the city’s 13 rivers, as people flee the regular floods that engulf homes and communities throughout the city.
A man walks through a mangrove forest in the north-west of Jakarta. According to the Jakarta Post, “it is now only a matter of time before mangroves are totally erased from the map of Jakarta — a victim of unbridled urbanization and industrialization programs initiated by the government”.
A worker carries a recently cut piece of timber near the shores of a reservoir in northern Jakarta. Trees are being cleared to enable to the expansion and dredging of the reservoir which is choked with pollution. It is hoped that this will help ease flooding in the local area.
A piece of a building is slowly engulfed by the sand and sea in the port area of northern Jakarta. Rising sea-levels are a continuing threat, exacerbating the city’s many environmental and social problems.
A schoolgirl waits for a boat in a slum community in central Jakarta. Many of the city’s poorest residents live just inches above the waterline throughout the city.
Children walk through ruins of a flooded district in the northern port area of Jakarta. Almost 40% of Jakarta lies below sea-level leading to flooding in many areas, even during the dry season.
People swim in a water park in northern Jakarta. Many richer communities in the city have been accused of distancing themselves of the problems faced by the residents of poorer communities, who are the first to feel the effects of flooding and the subsequent social and health problems.
Waves engulf a tree on the north coast of Jakarta. 40% of the city is now below sea-level and with rising sea-levels more and more areas of the city are flooding.
Jakarta, Indonesia – April, 2013
Located on the northern shores of the island of Java, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta is on the front line of climate change.
In January of 2013, the city was engulfed by floods, which submerged over a third of the city, bringing the world’s tenth most populous city to a standstill.
With nearly 40% of the city lying beneath sea level, this deluge of water was not a rare event for the millions of Jakartans who live in this sprawling megalopolis that was originally built upon a swamp and confluence of 13 rivers.
It is the increasing frequency of these floods that is beginning to worry residents as they begin to battle these inundations year on year. The floods of 2013 were the latest in a line that have increased in frequency over the past 20 years, exacerbated by increased deforestation in water catchment areas upstream which has led to increased water runoff which eventually runs into the city.
As the most recent floods receded, over 20,000 people had been displaced, nearly 50 people had been killed and an estimated US$ 50 million worth of damages had been done. Hardest hit were the resident’s of the city’s numerous slums, which are found lining many of the city’s waterways.
Jakarta’s plight has been intensified by another factor that is seeing the city slowly disappear. The city is rapidly sinking.
As migrants continue to flood into the city, the urban area’s expanding population is increasing the demand for groundwater resources, which are taken from directly underneath residents’ feet. New shopping malls, apartments and office buildings not only contribute to excessive water extraction, but under their own weight, also push the Indonesian capital deeper into the ground, subsequently increasing the future risk of floods in surrounding areas.
The sinking is so severe that is occurring on average at 10cm per year however in certain parts of the city, the decline has been documented by as much as 30cm per year.
As early as in the 1800s, Jakarta’s vulnerability to flooding was identified by the Dutch who colonised Indonesia in the early 17th century. They built a series of canals and floodgates in the city that were used during times of flood to control the passage of water throughout the urban area.
Today, most of these canals and floodgates have fallen into disrepair. Neglected for decades, they fail to serve their original purpose to help save the city from the influx of the seasonal floods. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the capital’s rivers are now choked with pollution. Refuse and trash are disposed into the rivers by millions of local residents daily, leading to all of the canals and rivers within the city becoming regularly blocked.
It is estimated that up to a third of Jakarta could be underwater within the next 20-30 years. The solutions to Jakarta’s problems are complex and daunting. The city’s expanding economy and place on the global scale is threatened by both natural and man-made causes, all of which are contributing to the city’s challenges. Jakarta is not only a city on the front line of climate change but also one that is contributing to its own demise, as overpopulation and water pollution further inflate the city’s problems.