Indonesia's Ministry of Public Works & Housing Advances to Community-Based Water Monitoring


Source: Business Insider

Date: 22 March 2018

In honor of World Water Day, the Directorate General of Water Resources, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing of the Republic of Indonesia presented a series of nature-based solutions program. Aiming to ensure sustainable water use without imposing damage on water-related ecosystems, it incorporates the "Nature for Water" theme of World Water Day 2018 on March 22nd. It involves communities from local government and Indonesian Ministry of Environment & Forestry to initiate programs, such as planting trees in upstream areas, river's nature school program, and construction plan with green infrastructure approaches. 

Following nine priority programs conducted by President Joko Widodo, efforts have been invested through national water programs, including the construction plan of 9 dams by 2018. It spreads around Central Java, East Nusa Tenggara, Batam, Banten, Sumbawa, South Sulawesi, and East Kalimantan and expected to accommodate water of up to 288 million m³. To achieve food security, construction of new irrigation networks also exceeds 500,000 hectares of total 1 million hectares target by the end of 2017.

"However, we need to remember that every project aims to create more value for community," said Imam Santoso,Indonesia's Directorate General of Water Resources.

To support the lake revitalization, a local government organization, Organisasi Perangkat Daerah, initiated Rescue Movement at Rawa Pening Lake. Along with 300 local communities, they planted 2,800 trees in Getasan Village, an upstream area of the Lake Rawa Pening, Semarang, Central Java.

"We build this area as a barometer of lake revitalization. Previously, more than two-thirds of the lake area were covered by water hyacinth. Along with the local communities, we ran the river by boat, cleaning it regularly every 2 weeks for 2 months. Thus, now only 30% of area covered by water hyacinth. Since then, a lot of tourists come to the area. Even in 2017, a nationwide multi sports event, Pekan Olahraga Nasional opted for Rawa Pening as the main location of paddle racing. Recently, it is also chosen as the main area of our World Water Day 2018's celebration," said Imam.

Nature school program in collaboration with local communities

A community approach to promote integrated water resource management is also undertaken by a Jakarta-based environmental community, Komunitas Ciliwung Condet. They regularly run down the Ciliwung river at least twice every week. Apart of cleaning up the river, they invite local people and children to learn how to construct a better waste management.

Spread to over 10 cities across Indonesia, river's nature school offers valuable lessons for local people to keep our river and its ecosystem clean and healthy. Sanggar Ciliwung, for example, now has 200 members. It consistently educates children about the danger of dumping waste into the rivers, otherwise show how to get rid of trash and burn it through community sharing session.

"It was initially part of local government program. However, it will be not anymore. Now, it's on patent process for the ministry's program, as every river basin from any cities is obliged to submit at least one river's nature school program for the 2018 plan" add Imam.

Overcoming construction plan to green infrastructure approaches

Among dam construction plans, the debate centers on how best to overcome environmental impacts, such as habitat loss to declining water quality. "For this case, we approach green infrastructure techniques. Hence, we believe negative impacts will not happen," add Imam.

Green infrastructure provides environment features to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services by building with nature. "It includes rainwater harvesting to drink and wastewater treatment plant. As for infrastructure surround a river, we substitute concrete with bronjong -a rock-filled mattress. It is effectively used in sequence, particularly for rivers with high sediment load. Another advantage is, we can plant greeneries on and surrounds the bronjong," said Imam.

To overcome the impact of floods and landslides in river cliffs, the Directorate General of Water Resources also applies the bio engineering method in several cities such as West Java and Central Java. Such innovation using a blend of bamboo, rocks, sandbags and grass planting to grip the soil.

Directorate General of Water Resources plans to apply this method of bio-engineering in other regions as they believe it is environmental-and-cost friendly. Thus, all society can experience its benefits. To maintain water quality, Directorate General of Water Resources also conducted peatland restoration plan. Included in the process is establishing Desa Peduli Gambut which now achieves up to 150 villages, spread around 7 provinces in Indonesia. Here, communities are trained to recover and build peat ecosystems, afterwards allow it to function in improving agriculture and reducing floods.

"We will encourage communities, particularly young generation, to always preserve water ecosystem," said Imam. Next in April, the ministry will invite all river's communities within countries to Rawa Pening Lake as the main event of World Water Day 2018. They will come together, discussing about water resources planning for this yearand how to advance the same improvement in other areas. Otherwise, they will also conduct some competition, such as art, science, and Duta Hari Air 2018 which plan to be held in several cities in Indonesia.

About Directorate General of Water Resources

The Directorate General of Water Resources, under the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, has critical roles in formulating and implementing water resources management policies, provided in compliance with relevant legislation.

In order to perform their duties in accordance with the Directorate General of Water Resources, their functions are: policy formulation in the field of water resources conservation, utilization of water resources and to control water damage on surface water resources, and utilization of groundwater in accordance with the provisions of legislation; implementation of integrated water resource management in compliance with the provisions of legislation; preparation of the norms, standards, procedures, and criteria in the field of water resources management; provision of technical guidance and supervision related to water resources management; implementation of evaluation and reporting regarding to water resources management; implementation of the administration of the Directorate General of Water Resources; and implementation of other functions provided by the Minister.

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