Possibilities for community participation in a transformed spatial planning approach to flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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Theses / Dissertations
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Environmental Sciences
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Doctor of Philosophy
University of Canterbury
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Prana, Adam Madigliani

Losses caused by flooding are described as the number one natural hazard worldwide, and they are projected to keep increasing with ongoing effects from climate change. In majority world cities, the impacts of flood damage are increasing in severity in vulnerable communities, such as the informal settlements (kampungs) located in riverbank and seaside areas of North Jakarta, Indonesia, which are the focus of this study. Escalating exposure to flood hazards cannot be prevented even though governments are continuously developing and implementing various flood control infrastructure projects. Increases in rainfall and relative sea level rises contribute to intensified and unprecedented water volumes, and effectively rendering purpose-built infrastructure such as canals, dykes, and dams incapable of preventing flooding in urban areas. The inability of existing urban environments to accommodate water inundation ultimately makes flood damage unavoidable and increases people’s vulnerability to flood hazards. This situation urgently requires the implementation of an effective flood adaptation paradigm, one that emphasises and encourages the development of settlement forms that can coexist with flooding rather than attempting to avoid it. Flood-adapted built environments are needed to reduce flood damage and to enable people to maintain their daily activities under both dry and wet conditions. This type of built environment is needed in kampung settlements in the flood-affected areas of northern Jakarta.

Spatial planning shapes urban development undertaken by both the public and private sectors. Effective planning policies that accommodate the idea of flood adaptation could play a significant role in ensuring dwellings that are in harmony with water and adapted to floods. Currently, spatial planning in Jakarta is influenced by colonial-inherited and globalised planning concepts that are inadequate in responding to the city’s cultural and geographical setting and to its increasing climate change challenges. This imported planning approach is prone to generating non-contextual city developments and aggravate the complex urban challenges that already exist in this majority world city.

This research first examines the relationship between the flood situations in kampung settlements and Jakarta’s current spatial planning policies. Second, it investigates flood adaptations applied by kampung communities and their relationship to existing planning policies. Finally, the thesis considers what kinds of spatial planning approaches could be more broadly and more effectivelty applied for flood adaptation in this and possibly other majority world cities. The analysis was based on fieldwork undertaken in 2018 in five kampung settlements in the riverbank and seaside areas of Jakarta. These areas, periodically subject to flooding and characterised by their dilapidated built environment conditions, were mostly inhabited by deprived communities. Key findings include:

  1. Highly flood-vulnerable settlements occur in Jakarta due a combination of the water- rich physical environment, the intense and transplanted urban development form of recent decades, and the city’s colonial-inherited planning policies, which promote and legitimise flood control and non-vernacular built environments. The flood hazard vulnerability of kampungs is used as a justification to evict their communities, and the government uses law-enforcement schemes through regulatory planning policies for settlement removal interventions.
  2. In Indonesian cities, kampung communities can adapt to floods in the built environment by applying local, livelihood, and indigenous knowledge. Flood adaptation, however, can be jeopardised by top-down planning policies when imported urban ideals are privileged without regard for local knowledge and collaborative community processes.
  3. In majority world cities, people living in informal settlements and slums have been evicted and flood adaptation interventions deterred. However, in Jakarta’s kampungs, and possibly elsewhere, flood adaptation could be achieved through settlement upgrading and participatory planning, thereby facilitating collaboration between planning authorities and local stakeholders and reducing or avoiding the need for wholesale eviction and displacement of entire kampung communities.

The findings from this study have important implications for the discourse about spatial planning policies and research about flood management. This research expands the discussion on flood adaptation as an alternative to flood control by connecting it with current research concerning spatial planning, decolonisation, and recognition of local peoples and places. The methodological synthesis put forward delivers a solid foundation upon which to comprehend why existing planning policies have been unable to help majority world cities address flooding issues effectively. Ultimately, I identify how a synthesis of spatial planning and participatory measures to facilitate flood adaptations could help address escalating urban flood issues and enable locally responsive ways to ‘live with water’.

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