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Jakarta slum dwellers put river-borne waste to work

Jakarta’s poor use waste salvaged from the Ciliwung River for flood protection and building material. (wikimedia/cc)

Sharmilee Mahadew reports in The Pop-Up City that the urban poor who live along the Ciliwung River in Jakarta rely on the waterway for bathing, fishing and laundry. The river also serves as a convenient dumping ground for trash.

But in a unique twist, locals salvage some of the debris strewn into the river and use it to reinforce the riverbanks to help prevent flooding. The refuse also doubles as a building material for the foundations of shacks that line the river. “The embankments of the river are made out of waste, deposited by both the polluted river [and] by the numerous people living there,” Mahadew writes.

Despite these efforts, the Jakarta Post reports that the Ciliwung River is so filthy from household and industrial debris that it is discolored and foul-smelling. The other dozen rivers that run through the city are equally polluted. Click here to read about efforts to clean up the Ciliwung.

The Pop-Up City

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