Our first fieldwork block in Jakarta in November 2022 led the TRANSCEND team to various sites that are vulnerable to flooding and experienced changes to their coastal settlements. Together with our local research associate Ayu from our partner organisation, the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), we took a tour of five different sites in the North of Jakarta that are of interest to our research.

Site 1: Waduk Pluit
The first stop of our field trip was the Waduk Pluit. It represents one of the city's efforts to increase urban water storage capacity to reduce flooding. While one side of the reservoir is occupied by informal settlements, the other side is rather green without any residential buildings since it was cleared from settlers in 2015. Through a participatory approach, settlers were relocated to close-by social housing for them to be able to maintain their livelihoods and social environments. However, we were told that some people had already moved back to the reservoir banks to rejoin family and close friends. The strong sedimentation in the reservoir facilitates informal settlers to extend their houses more and more onto the reservoir. The picture at the reservoir starkly contrasts what we saw when driving through the Pluit area because it is dominated by Chinese inhabitants living in upper-class houses and villas.

Site 2: The coast
Only a few kilometres further north, we made the next stop on land that was only reclaimed a few years back. Directly at the city's coastline, we could see more of the high-class houses of the Chinese community. Their belief and historical developments are reasons for their preference to settle close to water, no matter if this means being flooded from time to time. Right next to their houses, another informal settlement has developed, home to many workers in the city's fishing industry.

Site 3: Jakarta's fishing industry
In one of Jakarta's urban harbours, fishing vessels waited side by side in the port basin for their time to ship out. Looking at the basin bordered by a small wall, it was evident that the harbour area lies below the sea water level. Even though there was no high tide when we visited, there were big water puddles in the harbour area close to local company buildings as water dripped through the basin's walls. If the water level rose only a few centimetres, the walls would be overtopped, flooding all nearby companies and production halls. Nonetheless, fisheries will remain where they are as they represent an important economic sector in Jakarta. This includes not only large-scale fishing companies but also small- and medium-sized fisheries.

Site 4: In-situ upgrading - Kampung Akuarium
Not far from the Pluit reservoir and in the middle of an arm of the sea, we stopped at Kampung Akuarium. Formally an informal settlement, it is now a staked house that obviously differs from other social housing. Its design was developed in a participatory way with the residents, and the management of the neighbourhood inside lies within the hands of a so-called koperasi - a cooperation composed of the inhabitants who organise themselves to maintain not only the house but also traditional community structures. Surrounding the new buildings, conventional make-shift houses remain. Right opposite, we found a historical museum of Dutch colonial times - another location where living situations and urban form clash within only a few hundred meters.

Site 5: Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK 1) – Reclaimed island
After crossing the bridge to PIK1, we felt like we had entered another world. The island's reclamation only finished a few years ago, all buildings are new, and everything is very orderly compared to many other areas of Jakarta. Real estate prices are extremely high, so mostly high-income Chinese tradespeople can afford to live here. This is also mirrored in the shops and restaurants which focus on Chinese customers. The island is surrounded by a dyke, protecting it from the sea; in the West, another reclaimed island protects the coast even better. Shops and restaurants on the dike make it resemble a mundane recreational area, not a flood protection measure which is maybe also why some local business owners are not sure if they are indeed well protected in case of flooding. A lack of information on the planning process, implementation and effectiveness of protective measures presumably reinforces doubts of the local population.