Jakarta_Evictions_Flood Prevention or Working with the Water?


In Jakarta, entire villages, referred to as "Kampung", are being abandoned and destroyed due to mandatory evictions enforced by the government.


Residents are informed that they must leave voluntarily before a given date, and if they do not they will be evicted. On the day of evictions, entire villages with hundreds of households are bulldozed flat.


Former residents of these villages are treated as squatters occupying land illegally, yet it is not clear who the land belongs to, while the government claims such disputed land for its own use in such cases. Land management in Jakarta is stagnate and corrupt, leaving most residents unable to prove their legitimacy of residence in the Kampung. On days of eviction, desperate evictees not only lose their homes and are forced to move elsewhere, in most cases, they do so without compensation.

Life in the Kampung
Each year, 3 to 8 thousand families are affected by evictions.


Affected areas are villages, such as Bukit Duri, that have a close proximity to the river.


According to Jakarta municipality data, 460 land plots on the Ciliwung River bank will be cleared in order to make way for "Rehab" as part of flood mitigation efforts.


According to a study released by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) in February, the administration carried out a total of 113 evictions in 2015, affecting 8,145 families and 6,283 businesses. The study found that 84 percent of the evictions were conducted without prior discussions with affected residents.


Government planning documents show another 325 evictions this year (2016).



The fifth principle of the state's philosophical foundation is social justice for all.


Residents claim that they were subjected to intimidation..."every day police and military personnel went around the Kampung and forced them to take low-cost apartments provided by the administration".



These evictions violate this form of justice, not only by forcing people out of their homes without compensation, but also because of what they are offered in return.

The plan reduces their standards of living by offering housing only in vertical housing complexes (Rusunawa) that are often over 14 km away. This is problematic in terms of schools, education, work, and livelihood.


"The residents have their social, economic and cultural activities in this village. When they're forced to move away, their livelihoods are taken from them… The public should look at the situation fairly and not just buy the administration’s version of the story. The residents in Bukit Duri were blamed for flooding, but other factors have caused flooding."


Dhyta Caturani, spokeperson of Gema Demokrasi, a movement initiated by activists from 70 civil organizations


There have been incidents of violence in many evictions.


In August, 2016 an eviction in Kampung Pulo in East Jakarta made headlines when a clash broke out. On September 1, 2016, dozens of residents clashed with military personnel while trying to defend their homes from demolition.


Jakarta Legal Aid Institute recorded that the military took part in 65 out of the 113 evictions in 2015.


Jakarta Military District Command has denied allegations that it broke the law claiming it was there to "protect the residents from violent encounters with the officials".


According to Covenant, evictions may only take place in extraordinary circumstances and must be preceded by negotiations with residents based on compensation, and must take resident's needs and wishes into account. Yet the people are given no say in the eviction or relocation process.

Community watches as an eviction takes place

The government has proposed an alternative housing solution for the former Kampung residents. The government owned housing agency, Perum Permas, is planning and building large, social housing blocks known as "Rusunawas", which are offered to evictees. These housing blocks do not offer an appropriate form of compensation, as they are often too expensive for Kampung residents to afford. They are also far away from former homes, and thus far away from former work and schools. Such programs displace and dislocate communities.

Another issue with the Rusunawas is that their typology ignores that of the current Kampungs. They are vertical housing blocks emphasizing anonymity, formality, and separation. There are no spaces for commerce, the main income source for Kampung residents. Often, families move in, lose their income, and cannot pay the rent after just a few months.

In 2015, journalists from the social activist group Islam Bergerak, the nonprofit architecture magazine Ruang Arsitektur and the Jakarta Post held a writing workshop for the evicted residents. The idea was to give them the chance to express their feelings about the move.


Hartini (former resident of a Kampung) has a beverage stall near the debris of her former home. Her husband rented a small house a few hundred meters away from where she sits for them and their four children. The house isn't big, but compared to the apartment offered to them by the city, the rented house is closer to her children's school and husband's workplace. She tells how numerous belonging were destroyed during the eviction.


Aya (42, former resident of a Kampung) is examinging clothes at an outfit stand of a bazaar held by human rights and civil society activists. Her and her daughter's clothes were destroed in the eviction, she explains. The assistance of the evictees, she says, should be done by the city administration (not activists alone).


Muklis (49, former resident of Bukit Duri) rents a house nearby the area because the low-cost apartment offered to him is too far away from his children's school.


Iya (67, former resident of a Kampung) cannot earn money anymore. Before the eviction, he sold beverages. "What will I sell on the fifth floor? I don't even have any capital. I am ashamed that I have to beg for food now."


Hawker (54, former resident of a Kampung): "There was no dialogue, no compensation. I have to live at my parent's house now, my children were traumatized by the eviction, where is the justice?"

Living in Kampungs and with Evictions

This issue is considered by the city's poor to be one of the most pressing problems, and is influencing the upcoming political elections. Pressure is mounting for the city government to hear out its residents, while NGO's warn of a great potential for a segregated city as a result of mandatory evacuations. At the same time the city emphasizes its achievements and developments while ignoring the detrimental social aspects these evictions lead to.


The current president and former government once welcomed the ideas of the people to build a community-based vertical village (Kampung Deret) for Bukit Duri residents living along the river bank. But soon after Ahok became governor, he abandoned this idea.




A poster displayed near the debris of demolished houses reminds people of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's promise to develop a Kampung Deret, or elevated village, in Bukit Duri and other such places while he was still Jakarta governor. Hundreds of signatures have been gathered to make Kampung Deret in Bukit Duri, however Ahok never responded or opened discussion.


Candidates for governor in next year's election are already beginning the campaign with the issue of evictions at the forefront.


Anies Baswedan, a candidate most backed by the lower-income brackets, signed a "political contract" with the residents of Tanah Merah in North Jakarta, promising them ownership of land they have occupied for more than 20 years. He has also promised to revive Kampung Deret (elevated villages) in the affected area instead of evicting the residents. But are these again empty promises?


Meanwhile Ahok has secured support from four major political parties and has a high rating among middle and high income voters (those earning more than Rp 3.5 Million, or $269 per month)

The city administration justifies these evictions by claiming to "make way for the Ciliwung River flood mitigation program".

The city administration justifies these evictions by claiming to make way for the Ciliwung River Flood Mitigation Program. The Ciliwung River Flood Mitigation Program will widen the river and create a buffer zone where Kampungs once stood. The government use this flooding and blame on the Kampungs to carry out evictions.


Yet, disorganized spatial planning in the city has also exacerbated flooding.The floods no longer follow terrain lines, and have more to do with development and environment issues. For example, deforestation in Indonesia is a major issue, changing the terrain and leading to flooding. In addition and within Jakarta, the administration continues issuing permits for the construction of malls and high buildings. These kinds of buildings lower the absorption areas in the city and create much more runoff which leads to more destructive floods. The flood mitigation infrastructure in Jakarta is not only not adequate, flood gates become clogged with waste, and water pumps do not work. The current floodwall is out of date and overflows weekly. One of the biggest causes of flooding thought is the river being clogged with waste.


In response to criticism and in defense of his policy, Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaha Purnama, says the evictions are necessary to prevent floods and says he will listen when they present a viable alternative to his plan. Yet an alternative was presented years ago, when the current governor was an assistant to the former governor, now the current president of Indonesia, Widodo. At the time, proposals were made and even promised to be considered for creating viable alternatives, such a vertical Kampungs that would take up less space and allow for river expansion. These proposals by the residents of Kampong were accepted at the time by Widodo, but then rejected later by his successor, Ahok. Now Ahok says the government will show "no leniency" and would no longer be open to negotiation with residents, that compensation  would be determined by the administration, and that none would be offered to those who have been living in Kampung Pulo for less than 30 years.



Another issue behind evictions is the question of land rights and certification under the auspices of the National Land Agency.  There is a backlog of 60 million land certificates and everything is being done manually, making it a slow and inefficient process. Human Rights Watch found for one piece of land dozens of land certificates, pointing to corruption within the system.


Lawyer Alldo Fellix Januardy says the law unfairly targets slum dwellers and the poor who cannot provide proof of land ownership due to a legacy of unclear and overlapping land titles. Without being able to prove their right to the land, residents are left trying to prove residency any way they can; often showing proof of electric bill payments or even an equivalent to rent they often pay to local officials.


A law from 1960 prohibits use of land without permission from the rightful owner, but land rights advocates argue that this has long been invoked in favor of the authorities.


Some of those evicted have now initiated a class action lawsuit against the evictions within the Jakarta district court. Yet because these people do not hold titles to the land they lived on, this is often used as justification for the evictions on a legal basis. Such a case reached the higher court, who decided for the residents and that the eviction was illegal. The government had to pay a fine, but the residents were not compensated.

Case Study: Kampung Tongkol

A proactive Jakarta community adjusted its structure to fight back against government threats of eviction.

Residents of Tongkol Kampung in the north of Jakarta achieved a striking transformation of their lifestyle, and their homes in relationship to the river and flood prevention.

Instead of waiting for eviction and demolition, Tongkol residents (organized and aided by a local NGO and Architects without borders) used basic tools to knock down the front of their homes and move them back five metres from the waterway, thus creating clear access along the riverbank, even when this meant having to half their floor space.

They also made environmental improvements, building rafts to collect trash, and planting trees and plants along the waterway, as well as organizing community gardens.

The project has a wider ambition than just improvement, but also to serve as a case study that demonstrates to city leaders what can be achieved by Jakarta’s Kampung communities, and why they should be allowed to remain rather than being forced out to apartment complexes.

This project makes steps in the right direction, especially in terms of ecological improvements, water infrastructure, waste management, and recycling, but doesn't go far enough in addressing the issue of flooding-- the main reason the government gives for the evictions.

The example does show the potential in Kampungs to change their structures, infrastructures, lifestyles, as well as their willingness to take part on a community level in taking measures to allow them to stay where they are.

What if we created an infrastructure that worked with the floods?

To preserve the Kampungs in their current locations, flood mitigation measures must be taken. Current attempts at raising Kampungs above water level are not sufficient.  A smarter, more stable and flexible structure would provide the necessary flood mitigation, and could be used as a bargaining tool against the government. This structure would be made from modular elements that could easily be put together by Kampung residents as well as multiplied throughout the Kampungs that line the Ciliwung river.

The first floor would become an area that could be flooded during time of flooding, using permeable surfaces, such as plants and dirt, that would soak up water instead of create more runoff. This first floor would function as a street, public space, and space for commerce that would function as long as the water levels are normal.

A further step would be to implement structures that connect these structures, creating bridges between the houses that could be used as waste collection areas. The whole system would work in integrating basic flood preventing methods as well as waste collection, in a typology appropriate to the current one of the Kampungs. Houses would be rebuilt and integrated into this structure, keeping them above flood levels and creating a public and commercial space during dryer months.

შექმნილია  “ჯამპსტარტ ჯორჯიას” მიერ