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A Sinking City-Jakarta: JICA-RI Researcher's Feedback of Environmental Seminar on Subsidence and Rising Sea Levels in Indonesia

January 28, 2011

As a specialist on environmental issues, JICA-RI Research Associate Tomoyo Toyota currently undertakes a research "Adaptation to and Mitigation of Climate Change in Developing Countries," examining on how much Japanese development assistance has helped climate change measures in recipient nations. She also contributes occasionally to a project by a Kyoto-based Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), to look into the relationships between the developing stages of Asian major cities and environmental problems. The project "Human Impacts on Urban Subsurface Environment" focuses on urban underground issues like subsidence and groundwater pollution in selective seven cities including Tokyo, Manila and Jakarta. In January 2011, Toyota flew to attend a RIHN's feedback seminar in Jakarta and shared the findings

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Flooded Jakarta (Feb 2010)
Photo: Tomomasa Taniguchi/Rissho University
As of 2010, the capital city of Indonesia holds a population of 9.5 million, which increased from 8.3 million in 2000 according to Central Statistic Bureau. Growing need for water is leading to a groundwater overdraft, consequently triggering extreme subsidence. Additionally, the city has been suffering from frequent floods during the rainy seasons due to its low land (60% of it lies below sea level), and the condition is worsening with rising sea levels caused by climate change.

According to Toyota, RIHN teams presented their findings such as a possibility that the officially announced figures of pumped groundwater are inaccurate. The city has been monitoring the use of groundwater for decades, but constant management changes hinder precise data collection. Participants, including officials in charge of the environment and water at the national and local governments, responded with comments, showing that they recognize the problems but more time and actions are necessary. 

This water and subsidence issue is no stranger to Tokyo, Osaka and Bangkok. In Tokyo and Osaka, tough regulations in managing groundwater and heavy investments in building facilities such as embankments have been effective, while taxing on groundwater has helped solve the problem in Bangkok. By comparing seven cities at different development stages, researchers can compile data and information that can be applied for measures in follower countries and cities, Toyota explains.

Toyota reflects on the seminar and says, "Jakarta confronts the groundwater problem, flooding caused by intruding seawater with climate-change-led rising sea levels, as well as flooding from torrential rainfalls, also suspected to be caused by climate change. Manila, too, is struggling to cope with a similar situation. It's important to consider how to manage water and how to adapt to climatic changes as a set." She adds, "When an organization like JICA implements development cooperation programs, we must always keep it in mind that there is a climate change factor behind, and carry out with a multilateral perspective in assisting in sustainable city planning."

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Urban and Growing Jakarta (August, 2008)
Photo: Kenshiro Imamura/JICA

Related Research Area:    Environment and Development / Climate Change

Related Research Project: Climate Change: Adaptation to and Mitigation of Climate Change in Developing Countries

DayJanuary 06, 2011(Thu)
PlaceJakarta, Indonesia
OrganizerResearch Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN. Kyoto-based)
LanguageEnglish

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