The Jakarta Post
The Utarakan Jakarta project aims to inform and raise awareness on flooding by telling the stories of four people through various media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, website, magazines and exhibitions.
Dutch photographer Cynthia Boll, who initiated the project, said on Thursday that her team had just launched a Facebook page that would feed photos, stories and videos of the four people on a daily basis for three months.
'I took photos and videos of four people in North Jakarta. Through them, we can see how flooding affects their lives,' she said.
Boll said the four people comprised fisherman Lukman, jamu (herbal medicine) vendor Sarmini in Muara Baru, 12-year-old student Alda who lived in Pasar Ikan and bicycle tour guide Sumari from West Jakarta's Kota Tua.
'Through the fisherman, we can see the pollution in the sea while the jamu vendor will tell us how flooding has affected her business as the ingredients become more expensive and she could not run her business,' she said.
Boll said that through Alda, people could imagine how their futures would be affected if society did nothing to tackle the problems.
'Meanwhile, Sumari is the link between the past and present as he usually explains history and the preservation of buildings to tourists,' she said.
She added that the stories would also be complemented by opinions and insight from various parties, including experts, authorities and academics.
Boll said many people acknowledge that flooding and land subsidence occurred, but many of them did not realize the cause. 'Lukman, for example, has to elevate his house's floor every year but he does not know the cause of it,' she said.
According to Boll's research, land subsidence in North Jakarta ranges from 7.5 to 25 centimeters per year. 'Land subsidence in some places is worse than others,' she said.
She said the authorities should feel a sense of emergency and take immediate steps to tackle the
Boll went on to say that society should also realize that land subsidence occurred because of groundwater exploitation.
'I see Jakartans using water excessively, for example, to wash their motorcycle twice a week. People also litter everywhere and the garbage can clog up rivers,' she said.
She also voiced concern over the use of plastic bags. 'I hope that after watching the videos or reading the stories of these four people on Facebook or on our website, they will have a different mind-set,' she said, adding that she targeted 500,000 followers in the three-month campaign.
She added that she hoped people would use water wisely and push the government to supply piped water so that people would stop exploiting groundwater.
Private operators that are responsible for supplying tap water in Jakarta ' PT PAM Lyonnaise Jaya and PT Aetra Air Jakarta ' can only cover 60 percent of Jakartans while 40 percent rely on groundwater for daily needs.
Furthermore, poor communities in North Jakarta are forced to buy clean water from water vendors as it is impossible to get clean underground water because of seawater intrusion.
Boll said that besides using online media, the campaign, which was mainly funded by the European Journalism Center, would also be conducted offline, such as by printing the story in magazines and holding photography exhibitions.