Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rains - and Floods - Have Come to Jakarta

The Christmas holidays had barely faded into the background, before the rains came in earnest. It is now the rainy season, a period I am told will last through February. The ferocity of the storms takes my breath away. As I lie in bed at night, I can hear the rain pounding against the windows. The lightening brightens my room and the thunder booms. The power and intensity of the storms is astonishing - and exhilarating. When the rain wakes me, I snuggle more under my covers feeling safe, protected, and dry. It is a great place from which to appreciate the storm. My first conscious thought, though, is for those who are not as fortunate as I. Rain in Jakarta means flooding. It is not a rare occurrence. It is part of daily life for many people here during this time of year.

The problem is complex and is dependent on a number of factors. One of which goes back to the same Dutch ingenuity that I spoke about in an earlier entry. Remember those canals they dug through Jakarta to make it feel more like home – like Holland? Well over the centuries, those canals have been clogging up with mud, garbage and all forms of debris. They are no longer watery conduits, but breeding grounds for insects, filth and disease. In the rainy season, the canals also limit the ability of rain water to penetrate the earth – and so the extra water floods across many parts of the city.

How do I know about this? Well, it just so happens that the first evening event I attended in Jakarta was a lecture by a World Bank specialist on flooding. You might not think that would be a very interesting subject, but it turns out that the talk was fascinating and the computer-generated simulations that were shown were amazing. He talked about all the different factors that lead to flooding, as well as the myriad ways in which the problem could be attacked. What did this expert believe was the least expensive, most effective means of making a significant difference? Cleaning those canals, of course.

The image comes from


littlepurplecow said...

Wow. The image of the people wading through the floor is amazing. And the planting of rice one handful at a time? So much to experience there. I'm glad to live vicariously, though your stories make me want to come.

info said...

Sweetie, incredible stories! Sounds like you are having a blast! And you're a fabulous writer. Miss you but am so thrilled you're having such a groovy ride;-) Am looking forward to pulling an all-nighter next Sunday in celebration of Shivaratri, me being a Marindu and alll ...;-) Love Caitlin xxx