One Risk Replaces Another

Floods, Evictions and Policies on Jakarta’s Riverbanks

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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It has long been recognised that poor, marginalised groups are the most vulnerable to hazards related to climate change. Several recent studies have suggested that such communities may be doubly vulnerable when interventions are carried out to make climate-change-related adaptations. Climate-change interventions may be “maladaptive” and may further “injure” vulnerable communities. Although such findings are troubling, little empirical research has been conducted to explore how and where climate change interventions and discourses are shaping and being shaped by social stratification, inclusion and exclusion. This article therefore aims to contribute to our understanding of the negative (side-)effects of climate change interventions for vulnerable social groups. We investigate this issue in the context of climate change and increased flood risk in Jakarta, Indonesia. Our analysis of two cases of intervention shows how these are “maladaptations”. Flood policies in Jakarta are clearly failing to mitigate risk for the city’s poorest populations and are instead compounding the risks they face with those of eviction and increased poverty. The data on which this paper is based were collected during a total of one-and-a-half years of anthropological fieldwork conducted by the authors between 2010 and 2015.

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For example, after the floods in 2013, President Yudhoyono of Indonesia told reporters that the national government would spend the equivalent of 208 million US Dollars on the flood problem. Of this, 300 million Rupiah would be spent on mobile toilets and water pumps; another 500 million Rupiah would be spent on improvements to the channelling of the Ciliwung River and the east flood canal; the remaining 1.2 trillion Rupiah on dredging. See http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/01/20/president-promises-rp-2-trillion-flood-mitigation.html (retrieved 11 October 2013).

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See also Jellinek (1991).

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