The socio-economic impacts of floods on Jakarta

As a city located in a low-lying area, with about a seven-metre elevation and with 13 rivers crossing it, Jakarta is incredibly susceptible to flooding. The incidents occur annually, affecting a significant number of its residents. The National Development Planning Agency reported that the flood of 2007 submerged about 70 per cent of the city and no fewer than 140,000 houses. It is estimated that the loss occurring from flooding in 2007 reached Rp5.16 trillion.

The Jakarta government has implemented a number of initiatives to mitigate flood disaster risks. Despite these, flooding remains an issue for the city. This is mostly due to the persistent problems of inadequate infrastructure and unabated growth in the capital of one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies. Additionally, the cost of the projects required to mitigate floods in Jakarta is not trivial. Thus, reducing flood risks in Jakarta remains a challenge to be tackled by the Indonesian government as a key priority within disaster management. Civil society and the private sector also definitely need to contribute in reducing the impact of flood risks in Jakarta. To encourage them to participate and to be able to effectively contribute, information on the socio-economic impacts of flooding on households needs to be available to them.

This project aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the profound economic and social impacts of floods on individuals and communities. Thus, this study contributed to a body of knowledge that informs development policy, potentially leading to more effective use of foreign aid funds and to promote a more prosperous, safer region.

The project conducted a household survey to collect data on the socio-economic impact of flooding in Jakarta. The questionnaire was developed corresponding to the results from in-depth interviews and literature reviews that were performed at the beginning of the study. Computer-assisted personal interviews developed by the World Bank’s Survey Solution were used, instead of a conventional paper-based survey.

To ensure the quality and validity of the data, this survey employed random sampling methods. Flooding map data from the National Board for Disaster Management was also used to obtain information on regions that flooded every year, sometime flooded and never flooded in Jakarta. In total, 1119 household surveys in Jakarta were received. Further visits were conducted to these households to get information on the socioeconomic impact of floods.

The research found some indication that households with higher income/expenditure are less likely to experience flooding. The lowest flooding frequency occurred to those who owned their own homes. A diminishing pattern of flooding frequency also appear on the indicator of electricity power. The better the power supply installed in the house, the less likely the household is to experience a flooding incident. Households with their own sanitary facilities experience fewer floodings than households without.

Given that less wealthy households tend to experience flooding incidence is worrying, as households with no sanitary facilities are vulnerable to illness caused by flooding. The same pattern is also seen with regard to food security issues. Although the survey only captured a limited number of households with food security problems, most of them were also facing flooding problems, resulting in their condition being even more worrying. 

The impact of flooding can take various forms, such as asset damage, activities and livelihood disturbance, and health problems. Results showed that two-thirds of residents have suffered power blackouts and disruption to daily activities, such as working, schooling and in-house activities, during flooding. Half of them have also experienced water supply problems; only about 20 per cent of them have suffered disease or have been evacuated. We found that 15 per cent of households perceive that they are not disturbed during flooding.

Flooding also caused these households to spend more. About 60 per cent of the victims stated that they had to spend more on food and beverages, sanitary supplies and equipment to clean out flooding debris, such as mud and garbage.

In terms of damage to buildings, around half of the victims pointed out that the flooding causes damage to the walls, making them damp and mouldy. In the long run, this could be serious for the victims as it might cause various health problems. Nevertheless, a quarter of them stated that the flooding did not cause any damage to the building. We discovered that flooding does not cause many health problems to the victims.

Interestingly, three-fifths of flood victims said that they do not have any specific plan to reduce the risk of flooding; in other words, in the future, these households would do nothing about facing the flooding.

Results and achievements

Respondents were asked whether they would be willing to participate in the flooding index insurance scheme and an anti-flooding program. The former is insurance providing an amount of money if the flooding level exceeds a particular standard at the river dam. The latter is a government program which guarantees that no flooding will occur in the future.

Most people are willing to take out insurance if the starting price is Rp10,000 per month. The majority of the respondents are still willing to pay for it even at double that price. The pattern is almost the same for the anti-flooding program. Most people are willing to pay the premium if the price is set at between Rp20,000 to Rp100,000 per month. While households are at risk of flooding, it seems that they tend to do nothing and accept it as a common event. Educational programs on flood mitigation and adaptation are needed to help them to cope with flooding.



The cost of floods in developing countries’ megacities: a hedonic price analysis of the Jakarta housing market, Indonesia

By José Armando Cobián Álvarez (ANU) and Budy P. Resosudarmo (ANU)