Skip to main content

Reducing pollution in Jakarta slums: Haryanti Koostanto (Indonesia)



Communities and governments join forces to solve problems

Each year, tens of thousands of mostly rural migrants flood into Jakarta in search of work and a better life. Most end up in slums like Penjaringan, one of Jakarta’s largest, where inadequate waste collection, lack of affordable and safe water, and clogged sewage and drainage gutters take a severe toll on the residents’ health.

Coordinated by Mercy Corps Indonesia and funded by IDRC and other donors, researchers are now helping residents in three Penjaringan neighbourhoods work together with local governments and other interested parties — such as the private water utility — to find lasting solutions to these problems. The strategy: combine income-earning opportunities with the provision of environmental services — in essence, turn problems into solutions.

Through the “Healthy Places, Prosperous People” project, Mercy Corps connects with other local and international partners: the Urban and Regional Development Institute, the USAID-funded Environmental Services Program, and SwissContact, a non-profit private foundation.

Community development and appropriate technology specialist Haryanti Koostanto leads the project.

Haryanti Koostanto:

I’m a person who likes to be involved with people. The Healthy Places, Prosperous People project is about engagement with people — poor people — to improve their living conditions and their lives. We are doing this through three innovative pilot projects — household and communal composting, water provision, and gutter cleaning.

The first pilot project, solid waste management, is based on communal composting. Some 1200 households are collecting and processing household organic and plastic waste, and then making a profit from selling compost, ornamental plants, and recycled plastic handicrafts. We anticipate annual revenues of IDR 16.5 million (CA$1840) from the sale of these products. This reduces waste collection by municipal services and there is less burning, burying, and throwing of waste in canals, which will reduce health risks.

Finally, a gutter cleaning pilot project involves more than 2400 households to clear solid waste, sludge, and other debris from open air sewage and drainage gutters. Regular cleaning restores effective drainage of flood and wastewater, reducing health risks. The project team is using some of the organic waste to make construction bricks, liquid fertilizer, and planting medium. Selling these products is expected to generate revenues of IDR 135 million (CA$15 000) annually.

A learning experience

In all three neighbourhoods, the communities — more than 20 000 people — have learned to carry out the activities. The research approach that IDRC supports allows us to take into account each area’s unique character so we can be sure the projects address the needs of residents. This allows us to work more closely with communities. This way, they are learning how to sustainably manage their own waste, water, and sanitation needs.

The project has also been very useful for the research team, especially in providing opportunities through national and international forums to learn from other countries and also from within Indonesia. We have a lot of exchanges that help to build our capacity to conduct research and implement the project. I feel that I have gained skills in how to implement urban services, as well as improved my understanding of research methods.

Increasing the reach

The project has also helped us develop a good working relationship with the central government. We are trying to influence policy in terms of local governments’ budget allocation across Jakarta for solid waste management, water supply, and sanitation. We have been consulting with them to show the pilot project results.

Our ultimate goal is to change behaviour in the Penjaringan community, in local governments, and in the Indonesian research community. For example, with the collaboration of the North Jakarta government, we organize regular city consultations in which representatives from various agencies and levels of government, the private sector, and key leaders in the participating communities came together to discuss ways to integrate, scale up, and replicate the pilot projects.

The IDRC-supported “Healthy Places, Prosperous People” project, led by Mercy Corps Indonesia, is improving water, sanitation, and solid waste services through economic incentives in a poor district of Jakarta. 


Voices from the Focus Cities

When urban reformers from eight cities met to talk strategy, their quest for solutions led them to consider the role of research, the practices of ordinary citizens, and the need to engage better-informed municipal bureaucracies. The second pilot project, to provide a community-based water supply, connects 60 households that used to rely on expensive vendors to a central community-run system fed by clean water supplied by a private company. The system can provide 400 litres of tap water per household per day and is expected to cut household water costs in half.