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Jakarta aims to “normalize” the Ciliwung River

Efforts to mitigate flooding in Jakarta's Ciliwung River could displace nearby residents. (Veri Sanovri/Xinhua/LANDOV)

A stroll along Jakarta’s Ciliwung River provides a valuable lesson in urban resilience. Sarine Arslanian writes for the New Cities Foundation that a river “normalization” project aims to widen the waterway and add greenery on both sides to reduce runoff that causes flooding and contamination.

The project, launched in 2013, is a critical test for Jakarta, a crowded and impoverished city with 40 percent of its land mass below sea level. To improve the river, the city must relocate some residents who scrape by with jobs in the informal economy, the article says. “Relocation plans have sparked uproar among local communities, who feel that their socio-economic needs are not taken into account in civic design,” Arslanian writes.

But something needs to be done about the river, which has become a “dumping ground” for waste, the article says. The city is experiencing more intense rainfalls, heightening the risk of floods. And developers are building on environmentally sensitive areas designated as water catchments.

The New Cities Foundation is holding its annual New Cities Summit in Jakarta in June. More about that event is here

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