I went for a walk in a kampung near Kemang Timur, in Jakarta, last Sunday. After few minutes it started to rain quite hard. I sat under the roof of a school and waited for the rain to stop. It rained for about 15-20 minutes. There were thunders and lightening. The thunderstorm then moved on to other areas of Jakarta and where I was it stopped to rain. I left the school to walk back home along the alley of the kampung. Few meters from the school I was walking in water that was almost at knee level. Black sewage water. People were trying to protect their houses with wooden planks.
I stopped to chat with some of the people living in this area. Every time there is a strong rain the area gets flooded, they said. It does not have to be a long rain, a strong short downpour is sufficient to flood these narrow alleys and houses. It gets flooded every time there is a strong downpur, not every six months or every year. Every time. Which can mean anything between three to five to six times every month depending of the season. While I was talking to them I thought how can this happen in a mega-city like Jakarta which has 173 malls too many and is the capital of the 16th economy in the world ? Why does this happen? Is it because people have built houses where they should not? If so, why have they been allowed to build their houses in this dangerous area and what alternatives do they have? Is it because the flood mitigation system is insufficient for the needs of the city? If so, what are the plans and investments to improve flood preparedness and mitigate the impact of floods on the livelihood of the citizen of this city, particularly the ones living in poorer areas? Floods are wicked problems but we can all do something about them. Report them. Document them. Share flooding information to Peta Jakarta.