You simply cannot ignore it: global warming. Climate change has its consequences over the whole world. Rising temperatures and melting ice caps are causing countries over the world problems with rising sea level. A thousand years ago The Netherlands already built their first dikes and learned to manage the sea. While you could state The Netherlands have made water management their expertise in the past decades, for numerous countries this is another story. Can other countries learn from Dutch experiences in water resilience?
Let’s zoom in to the country consisting out of thousands of islands: the archipelago Indonesia. Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta, situated on the main island Java, has been dealing with rising sea levels for the past years. The clock is ticking for the city with over 10 million inhabitants At least 40 percent of the city’s land lays beneath sea level and is sinking roughly 10 to 20 cm each year. Estimated is that Jakarta will subside 5 meters under sea level in the year 2050 and even up to 7 meters in 2080. (ncicd.co, 2013) Already in the year 2030 roughly 80% of North-Jakarta will be flooded. Until now the city is protected by a concrete wall which is just strong enough to hold the sea-water. However in the coming years it certainly won’t stand a chance against the sea.
During the flooding disaster in Jakarta which occurred in 2007, the city suddenly had to deal with bursting rivers and canals. 29 people died and 340.000 people lost their home. A preceding flooding disaster in 2002 has led to 40 deaths.
Reasons for Indonesian and Dutch governments to join in a battle against the elements together. In 2013 both governments in collaboration with an alliance of various Dutch companies launched project National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD). This integral project oughts solving various problems concerning Jakarta’s water management. The program doesn’t just ought to solve flood protection, but aims for improvements in sanitation and water supply as well, thereby improving connectivity and a sustainable community development. These form a primer base for a supportable development of Jakarta’s economy.
Imagine a new city risen from the sea with the size of 2500 soccer fields, in the silhouette of a giant eagle. The Great Garuda is the name of the masterplan to protect Jakarta from sea flooding. Building a 35 meter dike across the Jakarta’s Bay is just unimaginable. Part of the NCICD is to rise a city in front of the Bay of Jakarta. This has the purpose to control the water within Jakarta’s bay and port. The entire project, including a sea wall, will approximately become 40km long and will rise 24 meters above water. This new city will consist of 17 islands in total but the main construction is formed as a giant eagle. This icon is the national symbol of Indonesia. The project provides new land for housing for 1.5 to 2 million people. The design includes a complete metropolitan infrastructure system.
The construction of the masterplan is planned to take 3 to 4 decades and costs in total $10million. The entire NCICD program will cost over $40billion.
Outcomes of the project
Each project has its downsides and so does project as well. As NCICD eventually has to lead to a safer coastal situation for Indonesians and a city that can sustain its economy and coastal resilience, the plan has some environmental consequences. Experts of the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries worry about demolition of coral and possible augmentation of polluted water getting stuck behind the wall. This last point of critique is rejected because of the rivers that supply clean water to the bay. The project will improve Jakarta’s sewer system. The current situation causes major pollution to the bay; At least 96% of Jakarta or equally 9.2million people live in households without a proper sewer system. Their waste and polluted water is dumped in open drains and eventually ends in the open sea.
Nevertheless, we could also conclude that the total project will contribute to a better environment. When Jakarta’s economy and society becomes self-sustainable in their fight against the rising sea level, they can eventually become more effective and efficient in their methods.
Currently Indonesia is fighting against the sea. Perhaps in the future, they’ll give water its space. Or in other words: Indonesian society might learn to live with the water instead of fighting it.