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Proceedings of the 1st AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conference on Natural Disaster Yogyakarta, 22-23 January 2014

Siswoko Sastrodihardjo
Former Director General of Water Resources Management, Ministry of Public Works, Republic of Indonesia (May 2005-
July 2007); Former Chair of Southeast Asia GWP (2007-2010); email:
Abstract: Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, has developed mostly in flood plain. Annual damages caused by floods and
inundation keeps on increasing. Implemented efforts cannot meet the rising problems. The completed and on-going
physical/structural measures are in the form of flood control and urban drainage systems. They are constructed for
certain capacity, not for absolute protection. Non structural measures which lies in public domain is still limited,
due to lack of community understanding about risks of living in flood-plain.
In relation to the big flood occurred in mid January 2013, the government is presently preparing physical measures
to make Jakarta free of floods. Apart from doubts regarding the feasibility, the activities show that the government
is still relying on structural measures.
Floods are phenomena which can never be fully controlled. Structural measures tend to create a false sense of security in
the population protected by the works.Therefore it is required to shift from flood control paradigm to integrated flood
management (IFM) paradigm, a combination between structural and non structural measures, emphazising public
participation. National Policy to contain water related disasters as stipulated in Law No.7/2004 on Water Resources
have been in line with the new paradigm.
Keywords: Jakarta; flood management; structural measures; nonstructural measures; paradigm shift.

Jakarta that used to be named Batavia has grown and
developed in the flood-plain of Ciliwung River. The
city keeps developing and nowadays approximately
50% of Jakarta area is in the flood-plain of 13 rivers
including Ciliwung River. Since founded, almost
every year Jakarta has flood and flood inundation
everywhere, and it has been done a lot of efforts to
overcome the problems since hundreds years ago, by
building various physical infrastructures that have
been done mainly by the government.
Flood inundation thats occurred in Jakarta can be
caused by the overflow of river, tidal water from the
sea, and the obstructed local rainfall flow to the drain
and river. Besides triggered by the development of
flood-plain into city areas such as luxurious
settlements, five-star hotels, malls, and other public
infrastructures that are not adaptable and
anticipatable to the possibility of flood inundation;
flood problems in Jakarta are worsened by the land
subsidence, rising of the sea level because of the
global warming, climate change, watershed
deterioration, solid wastes, lack
of people awareness, and insufficient operation and
maintenance of existing infrastructures. Real
estates, luxurious hotels, shopping complexes,
business centers, and luxurious housing complexes
also all city infrastructures in Jakarta that are flooded
between January-February in 1996, 2002, 2007, and
2013 all are located in the flood-plain.
The flood in 1996, 2002, 2007, and the last one in
January 2013, showed that the disaster and loss
because of the flood keep increasing, and the
physical efforts that have been built are not enough
to reduce moreover to clear up the problems. Related
to that problems, government has launched various
physical infrastructure development programs to
fulfill people expectation, so Jakarta can be free of
flood and flood inundation. The measures include
Multipurpose Deep Tunnel (MPDT),
diversion/interconnection Ciliwung-East Flood
Canal (EFC) , Ciawi Dam and the Great Sea Wall
(GSW) Project.
Flood problem in Jakarta is generated by some
factors either static behavior of the nature
(approximately 50% of Jakarta area is located in
flood-plain of 13 rivers); and the dynamic behavior
of the nature (high rainfall and the backwater from
the high tide of the sea). The non-natural causes are
related to people activities such as:

a. The limitation of infrastructures maintenance
Physical infrastructure for controlling the flood
and the city drains that have been built are not
operated and maintained well. So, the rivers and
Yogyakarta, 22-23 January 2014 Proceedings of the 1st AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conference on Natural Disaster
the drains are filled with sediment and solid
waste. As a result the flow capacity is not
according to the plan. A lot of drains are closed
by some people, so it is not easy to do the
maintenance. Also the pump system sometimes
can fail to work even the fuel is not available.
Besides the budget for operational and
maintenance is limited, the problems occurred
also related to government policy which is
mainly to prior physical development, also the
management of garbage which is still bad plus
the lack of guidance and supervision of the
people by the government.
b. Land-use planning
The use of upper watershed areas which doesnt
follow spatial plan and also various
requirements that have been set such as green
open space and infiltration wells, so the amount
of flood water that flows to the downstream
tends to increase over time. In the downstream,
the land-use in the flood-plain areas, up to now
hasnt considered the risk of flood, and hasnt
applied flood-plain management; so various
activities by the private, government, and the
group of people that have been grown fast
increasing the loss when there is flood. The
planner including the official of relevant
agencies and also the people havent understood,
although structural measures has already been
built, there is still the risk of flood in the flood-
plain. Along the river bank has already been
built a lot of houses, such as permanent houses,
legal, and illegal houses or squatters; so that they
narrow the river capacity to flow the flood.
Squatters is also built in the reservoir area, such
as in Pluit reservoir. The effort to inform the
risks to the people, including the management of
the development in the flood-plain that has
already been grown is not easy.
c. The urban drainage system
The urban drainage system is built to overcome
the flood inundation caused by local rain. It is in
the form of canal that flows to the river or sea
which is planned based on the discharge of 2-5
years flood. If the flow is impossible by
gravitation, it can be equipped by polder system,
it is in the form of reservoir and pump station
which are designed for 25 years flood. The
dimension of the existing canals in general cant
accommodate the escalation of discharge
because of the fast change of the land use, so the
performance of the drainage system is below the
standards set. Garbage and sediment along the
canal and reservoirs, also obstacles of the flow
due to the cross structures and public utilities,
reduce the flow capacity of the canal.
d. Land subsidence
Rapid urbanization along with uncontrolled and
over-extraction either shallow or deep
groundwater, leads to coninuous subsidence of
the ground surface especially in the northern part
of Jakarta. Its not only caused by the lack or
limited raw water supply, but also the limited of
the management and supervision of the
groundwater abstraction
e. The limited management, guidance and
supervision to the people
The flood peaks and damages may continue to
increase mainly because of the humans activities
in the upper-watershed and in the flood-
plain.The government effort to organize, to
guide and supervise for all of the people
activities is very weak. So the amount of flood
discharge is getting bigger, the lowering of the
ground level is worse, and the properties of the
people that are threatened by the flood
inundation which located in the flood-plain is
also increased. On the other hand, the
performance of the physical infrastructure is
weakening, so the flood problems get worse.
f. The lack of community understanding
The people in the flood-plain and in the
watershed have an important role to overcome
the flood problems. But the fact, people who
especially live in the flood-plain dont realize it,
and have never been explained of the flood risk.
On the contrary the government by using mass
media expose various physical projects plus the
target that want to be achieved by using
hundreds trillions of rupiahs. The people dont
understand if the physical infrastructure just
creates a false protection, and the flood-free
condition is only illusion. Related to it, people
feel no need to take an active role to overcome
the flood problems, because the flood-free
condition still can be achieved with the
completion of the physical projects that are done
by the government. Some terms which are
misguided but have been so popular such as
flood-free, gifts flooding, return period of flood,
etc played important role to mislead the
understanding of the people.
g. Emergency response and early warning system
The disasters such as flooding due to dike break
dont occur suddenly, but through the process,
such as starting from the overflow, scouring and
sliding of the bank, leakage, and piping. For that
reason it is necessary for emergency response
for flood prevention in the form of various
Proceedings of the 1st AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conference on Natural Disaster Yogyakarta, 22-23 January 2014
activities of an emergency nature, in order the
embankment not to be collapsed. To anticipate
the incident, emergency response need to be
done supported by flood forecasting and early
warning system and walk-through. This efforts
that are part of the operation and maintenance
activities which carried out in force-account
basis, seems not performed in this era, because
almost all the water resources management
activities including flood management from
planning to implementation and maintenance,
done by the second party through contracts.
h. The limited coordination
The occurrence of floods and efforts to
overcome problems are involving the
community and various agencies and regions.
Various efforts to overcome the issues of
prevention in the form of physical activity,
performed by each agency and territory, without
a unified plan and are based on a clear division
of authority. As well as on efforts to flood
prevention/emergency response.
Various physical infrastructures have been built such
as: urban drainage system, polder, pumps, sluice,
river improvement, flood-way, and flood dike,
which were done mostly by the government since the
Dutch era. Urban drainage system was constructed
so that the rain water flows smoothly into the canals
and rivers; embankment or dike was built to prevent
flood in the flood-plain due to overflowing of the
river; reservoirs or situ and flood-ways were built
to reduce flood in the river to overflow into the
flood-plain; and channel improvement of the rivers
in order to enlarge the capacity so it can reduce the
flood in the flood-plain. Various physical
infrastructures are designed based on the discharge
of a particular flood; drainage system for the return
period of 2-5 years of flood, whereas for the flood
control system for the return period of 50-100 years
of flood.
Although operation and maintenance was done well,
the capacity of the various physical infrastructures
still have limitations and cannot guarantee a
protected flood-plain can be flood-free. For
example, if the dike of Ciliwung River was planned
to overcome the 100 years flood in the amount of
600 m3/sec, then for every year the chances of a
flood equal to or greater than 600 m3/sec is at 1%.
As well as the drainage which was planned for 2
years flood, then for every year, the chances of
inundation caused by the channel capacity exceeded,
is 50%. Therefore every year there is always
possibility of flood that excess design flood
discharge, so that the flood-plain areas are still prone
to flood and inundation. The fact is the operation and
maintenance activities are inadequate, so the
vulnerability is even greater. Nevertheless there has
been no effort to anticipate the flood if it exceeds the
design flood discharge, including efforts to suppress
the number of the disaster/loss. The loss suffered by
the people due to floods is increasing from year to
year, indicating that the public has not understood
and realized it.
Flood phenomena in 1996, 2002, 2007, and the last
in January 2013, showed that the magnitude of the
disaster and the loss due to floods still rising. Based
on the media coverage, there is a judgment that the
problem occurred because of inadequate physical
infrastructures that have been built, therefore cannot
reduce moreover to overcome the problem
completely. In connection with that, the government
will soon implement some physical activities at cost
of tens to hundreds of trillions rupiahs that are
considered "highly effective" to tackle the problem
of flooding, and Jakarta is expected to be free from
flood and inundation. The activities include:
diversion/interconnection Ciliwung-EFC;
normalization of Pesanggrahan, Angke, Sunter, and
Ciliwung; Ciawi dam construction; construction of
MPDT, and GSW. Interconnection Ciliwung-EFC,
MPDT, and GSW which require relatively very large
cost are incidental activities, and not through the
feasibility study according to the valid procedures;
thus the effectiveness and feasibility as the flood and
inundation countermeasures in Jakarta are very
doubtful. The idea of developing MPDT just copied
from other counties, while GSW seems to imitate
what was done in the Netherlands. In a feasibility
study prepared in 1996, plan to build Ciawi Dam has
been declared unfeasible.
Some of the above incidental physical activities,
besides not feasible both technically, economically,
and environmentally, are intended to overcome the
flood due to overflow of rivers and a flood tide from
the sea, and has not touched the inundation problems
due to the local rain. Nevertheless it has shown that
the government is seriously committed to fight all
out and extraordinarily against natural phenomena,
in order to eliminate the problems of flood in Jakarta.

Yogyakarta, 22-23 January 2014 Proceedings of the 1st AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conference on Natural Disaster
Various physical activities of flood control have
been implemented in various countries around the
world, are built on a certain design flood discharge
and not for the biggest flood (Probable Maximum
Flood/PMF), so the chances of a catastrophic flood
are still open when the discharge is greater than the
design flood discharge. The disaster and loss become
larger when people do not understand the
performance of the drainage and flood control
infrastructure, and do not understand the risks of
living in a flood-plain. Various countries around the
world have proven that physical activities are
powerless to fight against natural phenomenon
completely. For example, the United States "got
confused" after the Mississippi and Missouri rivers
levee that was built for 100 year flood discharge; it
fell apart due to the 500 year flood in 1993.
Realizing that physical infrastructures only create
pseudo-protection for the people living in the flood
plain and cannot change and ensure a flood-free
flood-plain, even disasters and losses suffered by the
community are greater when there is a flood that
exceeds the design flood discharge; hence since the
last decade, it has awakened a collective
consciousness of many nations around the world,
such as:
a) World Water Forum (WWF) III in Kyoto in
2003 has resulted a mutual agreement that
Floods are natural phenomena which can never
be fully controlled and so we must learn to live
with them. Flood-free conditions are only an
illusion. A comprehensive and integrated
approach needs to tackle the problem of flood,
so that the utilization of the land in the flood-
plain can be optimal and disasters/floods can be
as small as possible. The overall effort is an
innovation of combination of structural
/physical and non-structural/non-physical effort,
which are based on the people participation.
b) In line with the agreement in that world level
forum above, the World Meteorological
Organization with the Global Water Partnership
(WMO-GWP) have issued a publication on
Tools for Integrated Flood Management (IFM).
According to them, IFM is a process that
promotes an integrated, rather than fragmented
approach to flood management. It integrates
land and water resources development in a river
basin, within the context of Integrated Water
Resources Management (IWRM), with a view to
maximizing the efficient use of flood-plains and
to minimize loss of life. The Effort is a
combination of structural and non-structural
effort which is an integral part/integrated with
the management of water resources in one river
basin. Non-structural efforts which include
flood-plain management/land-use, by regulating
and controlling the development of land in the
flood-plain in such a way, so that the amount of
loss or disaster when there is flood inundation
can be as small as possible; as well as flood
proofing and flood fighting which are supported
accurately by monitoring and early warning
c) To overcome flood problems, since hundreds
years ago the Dutch government has built
physical infrastructure of flood control, which
included Great Sea Wall and the river
embankment, with the level of protection is
relatively high (1.000 to 10.000 years flood).
Referring to the flood in 1995, the Dutch
government realized that the infrastructure has
limited capacity and cannot guarantee the flood-
plain to be immune to flood. For that reason, in
1998 it has been prepared Rhine Atlas which is
a map of flood-plain which is prone to flood, in
order to remind the people that although there
are physical infrastructures of flood control, the
people who live in flood-plain should remain
alert and aware that they live in the vulnerable
region and risky to be flooded.
Law No. 7/2004 on Water Resources has mandated
the need for the integration of all three aspects of
water resources management, which includes
aspects of conservation, utilization, and control of
the destructive force of water. In this case the force
of water is included flood. Controlling force of water
include the prevention, mitigation and recovery,
with the emphasis on prevention and involving the
community. Plan arranged in an integrated of pattern
as a framework for water resources management in
one river basin or river teritory. Prevention efforts
include a combination of activities that overall
physical activity/structure and non-physical/non-
structure, with the emphasis on non-physical
activities. Prevention efforts aimed at minimizing
disasters/losses and not to prevent 100% the flood
problem. Community involvement, especially for
non-physical activity is particularly important given
since the main source of flooding problems are due
to community activities. Therefore, the government
Proceedings of the 1st AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conference on Natural Disaster Yogyakarta, 22-23 January 2014
needs to make the regulation, guidance, supervision
and control, which should indeed be their major task.
National policies in order to overcome the problem
of flood in Indonesia were mandated by Law No.
7/2004 on Water Resources, has been in line with the
concept of IFM, which is a new paradigm that
becomes the world deal.
a. Jakarta is the capital of the Republic of
Indonesia which grows and develops in the flood
plain which is prone to flood. Flood problems
continue to increase in line with population
growth, economic growth, environmental
degradation and the climate change.
b. Its not only caused by static and dynamic
behavior of the nature, but the flood problem
mainly caused by various community activities
both in the flood-plain and in the watershed that
are less or not in line with the efforts to prevent
flood problems; its as a result of lack of
regulation, coaching, supervision and control of
the government.
c. Various attempts have been made, but still give
priority to physical activities or project approach
and do not touch the various problems which are
mainly caused by human activities. Therefore
the problem/loss/catastrophe suffered by people
not being reduced.
d. To answer the public's obsession to make Jakarta
flood free, the government has launched a
development program of the physical
infrastructures costs hundreds of trillions rupiah,
without realizing that any forms of physical
activity will only create a false sence of
protection, and flood-free condition is an
illusion. The Dutch that has built GSW with very
high flood control level has also been aware of
it and has warned their citizens who live in the
flood-plain to remain alert.
e. False assumption that Jakarta will be free of
flood by the construction of physical
infrastructures has also eliminated the public
awareness of the risks as well as the adaptation
to the possibility of inundation/flood. In
addition, efforts to overcome the flood problems
are thought to be the responsibility of the
f. Current paradigm to overcome the flood
problems is a win - win solution between natural
phenomena with human activities to utilize the
flood-plain. The effort is a combination of
physical and non-physical activities that are an
integral part in the management of water
resources in one river basin (integrated flood
management) which based on community
participation. The target of the efforts is to
suppress the amount of loss/disaster caused by
flood as small as possible, and cannot eliminate
the flooding problem 100 %. A law No.7/2004
mandates on Water Resources Management has
been in line with the new paradigm.
a. Efforts to tackle the problems of flood and
inundation in Jakarta should be reviewed and
improved by using a new paradigm as mandated
by Law No.7/2004 on Water Resources. Efforts
made in the form of a combination of physical
and non-physical activities as part of the
integrated water resource management in
Ciliwung-Cisadane Sub River Basin.
b. Society and all stakeholders who are involved
must implement the new paradigm, and stop
dreaming of flood-free condition which is
impossible. For that reason, all stakeholders
should have a distinguished understanding of
flood, flood problems and efforts to overcome
them. Some terms such as flood-free, gifts flood,
flood return period, flood level, etc. that are
misguided and misleading, need to be clarified.
c. It is necessary to review or audit the existing
physical infrastructures regarding: the
performance of drainage systems and flood
control systems, updating the design flood
discharge to anticipate environmental changes
and climate change, as well as the anticipation
of flood greater than the design flood discharge.
d. Physical infrastructures is typically planned to
overcome the flood problem to a certain flood
level, and should be built based on technical,
economic and environmental analysis, with the
basis of river basin system; so that the
accountability can be justified. Therefore the
incidental physical infrastructures that raised
with enormous costs, needs to be reviewed. The
idea to build a GSW that refer to GSW in
Netherlands should be noted that the prevailing
paradigm in the Netherlands has already
e. To ensure a good performance on the existing
drainage systems as well as flood control system
(on or under the same discharge conditions with
the design flood discharge), the operation and
maintenance activities, combined with the early
warning and flood fighting, should be carried
out properly.
Yogyakarta, 22-23 January 2014 Proceedings of the 1st AUN/SEED-Net Regional Conference on Natural Disaster
f. To suppress the magnitude of the disaster or loss
when flood exceeds the design flood discharge,
the levee or dike structure which located in
urban areas should not be damaged or collapsed
due to overtoping.
g. Nonphysical activities as public domain, consist
1. Utilization of flood-plain for housing, real
estate, office buildings, hotels, business
districts and other urban infrastructures are
adaptive and adjust to the possibility of
flood inundation, with flood proofing,
restrictions on use of the building,
relocation, etc
2. Development in the upper-watershed should
follows the rules of spatial planning and
proper soil and water conservation, by
building infiltration wells, infiltration
ponds, etc.
3. Restriction/termination of the use of the
ground water to prevent land subsidence in
4. Establishment of canals, rivers and
reservoirs right of way.
5. Secure the canals, rivers and reservoirs right
of way free from either permanent or simple
6. Proper waste management.
7. Flood emergency response/flood fighting
which are supported by monitoring and
accurate forecasting and early warning
h. Government should not only build, operate, and
maintain the physical infrastructure, but also to
carry out their main task in the form of
regulation, guidance, supervision and control of
all non-physical activities that become public
domain. It also facilitates emergency response
efforts and forecasting and early warning;
facilitate waste management, as well as provide
sufficient raw water supply from surface water
Firdaus Ali (2012). Multi Purpose Deep Tunnel
(MPDT), An Integrated Solution for Flood Control,
RAW Water, Sewerage, Road Tunnel, and Public
Utilities Shaft for Jakarta Metropolitan.
PT. Indra Karya (2011). Detail Design Floodway
Ciliwung EFC, Final Report.
Republic of Indonesia, Law No. 7/2004. Water
Resources Management
Sawarendro (2010). Sistem Polder & Tanggul Laut,
Penanganan Banjir Secara Madani di Jakarta.
Siswoko Sastrodihardjo (2012). Upaya Mengatasi
Masalah Banjir Secara Menyeluruh/Comprehensive
Flood Management, Yayasan Badan Penerbit
Pekerjaan Umum, PT Mediatama Saptakarya.
WMO-GWP (March 2008). A Tool for Integrated
Flood Management, Associated Programme on
Flood Management.