Be Awesome

Look, our forefathers died for the "pursuit of happiness," okay? Not for the "sit around and wait of happiness." Now if you want, we can go to the same bar, drink the same beer, talk to the same people every day or you can lick the Liberty Bell. You can grab life by the crack and lick the crap out of it.
--Barney (HIMYM)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ciliwung River Cleanup

USAID's logo wasn't meant to be there but they already printed the banners.
The Ciliwung River is 97 km (60 miles) long and flows through from the mountains through much of Jakarta.  This river has a reputation for being one of the most polluted in the world and is filled with industrial and agricultural runoff, pollution, and waste.  Many urban poor have unofficial settlements and housing near the banks of the river and use the river for household purposes, bathing, trash disposal, and even drinking.  The pollution of the river is also a contributor to the river's frequent flooding which occurs annually during the rainy season.

Since coming to Indonesia, I've been working with the the Embassy's Green Team on various activities to lessen the negative environmental impact of the US Embassy community but also work with the external community to to improve the environment.  Timed near Earth Day on April 27th, we teamed up with a local NGO and community organizations to organize a river cleanup event to raise awareness and attempt to kick-start the government and community to take action in managing the health of the river and demonstrate the US Government's commitment to environmental stewardship.
The Ambassador speaking at the start of the event.
US Ambassador Blake joined the Green Team in the cleanup adventure as we rafted down several kilometers picking up trash along the banks.  Since many of the people living along the river were doing so unofficially, they had little to no access to public services.  Thus, the river served as their source of water as well their location for waste disposal.  Even as we were rafting by picking up trash from the river, we could see people throwing garbage bags into the water.  The problem is complicated since public services can't be provided to people who shouldn't be living there in the first place so alternative housing would have to be found to even begin moving people.  Definitely a long term effort but I believe we at least put more attention to the issue in the media and received positive press.

Community unites to clear garbage from Ciliwung River (Jakarta Post)
Pemerintah AS Beri Perhatian Serius atas Kondisi Sungai Ciliwung (VOA)

Shanty housing under the train tracks.
That's actually plastic hanging from the trees.
More unofficial housing settlements.
A traditional raft and rope used to cross the river.
Local community observing by a trash heap.

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