Social innovation in times of ﬂood and
eviction crisis: The making and unmaking of
homes in the Ciliwung riverbank, Jakarta
Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
Department of Architecture, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), Leuven, Belgium
Correspondence: Anastasia Widyaningsih (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This study considers displacement occurring around the Jakarta ﬂood mitigation projects between
2015–17 and explores the emergence of social innovation by affected kampung communities
along the Ciliwung River. A framework combining theories on domicide and social innovation is
developed to scrutinize two main case studies, Bukit Duri and Kampung Tongkol, revealing their
connection to the city’s urban development trajectory as well as the continuous struggle over ade-
quate housing for low-income groups. The study questions ofﬁcial plans, policies and responses
towards ﬂood-induced displacement and resettlement planning. It also brings social innovation
into the debate to unpack how displacement became a key moment for transformative change.
The paper argues that, although urban eviction is related to globalization, outcomes are not fore-
closed. Predominant urban mechanisms are contested, shaped, and transformed by local
Keywords: social innovation, domicide, community empowerment, riverbank kampung, Jakarta,
Accepted: 29 October 2020
Development-induced displacement, a form of what Porteous and Smith (2001) refer
to as ‘everyday domicide’, occurs in many different situations, and can affect almost
anyone, except the very wealthy. The notion of ‘domicide’is deﬁned by Porteous and
Smith (2001) as ‘the deliberate destruction of a home by human agency in the pursuit
of speciﬁed goals, which causes suffering to the victims’(Porteous & Smith, 2001: 12).
In contrast with ‘extreme domicide’that has an impact on a notably huge number of
people in a large area, such as in war or conquest, everyday domicide has become legi-
ble in many globalizing cities. Brickell et al. (2017) reassert that everyday domicide is
an enduring form of violence. Forced-eviction is not prohibited by International Law,
for instance to relocate people living in and around hazard-prone areas for safety rea-
sons (UN-HABITAT, 2011). However, most cases fall short of international human
rights standards. Planning and political constraints often fail to differentiate environ-
mental crisis-induced displacement from any other kinds of development-forced dis-
placement (Wilmsen & Webber, 2015).
In Jakarta, forced-eviction has become common practice to clear land for public
improvement purposes or commercial projects, especially during the authoritarian New
Order era (1965–98) when it was implemented without any consultation or compensa-
tion (Human Rights Watch, 2006). Today, development-induced displacement persists.
According to a series of reports published by The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH
Jakarta), there were 416 cases of forced-evictions in Jakarta from 2015–17. They dis-
placed 15 042 households and 13 394 small business units in total for various
Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography (2021)
© 2021 Department of Geography, National University of Singapore and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
government-led projects, such as road construction, reservoir revitalization, and river
normalization. The latter refers to the Ciliwung River Normalization Project and the
World Bank’s dredging project, Jakarta Urgent Flood Mitigation Project (JUFMP),
which are the focus of this study.
Accompanying the Ciliwung River Normalization Project, about 526 families in
Bukit Duri sub-district, South Jakarta who resided in the many kampungs (Indonesian
term that is used to refer to urban neighbourhoods) along the Ciliwung riverbank,
were evicted by the end of 2016. The number rose to almost a thousand families from
the relocation of the adjacent Kampung Pulo earlier in 2015 (LBH Jakarta, 2016a;
2017). Initiated by the central government in 2012, the river normalization project
aims at restoring the depth and the width of the waterway to its original proportions
(10–12 m by 35–50 m) to optimize its carrying capacity through sheet pile instalment.
The project spans from TB Simatupang to Manggarai Watergate river segments along
which both the kampungs are situated. Nevertheless, amidst the criticism, the city
claimed that the evictions had been carried out according to the law. They included
public consultations, better warnings, promotion of self-dismantlement of building
components, monetary compensation, or resettlement packages. The latter approach
offers several options depending on the characteristic of the communities, ranging from
social grant packages that cover resettlement costs to the provision of rusunawa or low-
cost rental apartment units (Ministry of Public Works and Housing, 2011).
Despite the provision of resettlement for evictees, some families in the affected area
of Bukit Duri refused to move. They were still deemed ‘illegal squatters’by the city
administration for residing in water-catchment areas, thus contributing to the worsen-
ing of ﬂood hazard, although some of them have land ownership evidence in hand.
Amidst stigmatization, intimidation, and threats of eviction, some affected kampungs
sought for negotiation through proposing alternative solutions for the resettlement
plan. In one case, the eviction threat paved the way for stronger forms of resistance
and became a momentum of change for the riverbank dwellers. The dynamics of such
processes are illustrated in the selection of the case studies for this paper. They include
(1) Bukit Duri and Kampung Pulo in South Jakarta which have endured eviction and
resettlement, and (2) Kampung Tongkol, Lodan, and Krapu in North Jakarta in which
the practice of social innovation emerges (see Figure 1). Despite their separate locations
and differing circumstances, these case studies bear similarities and connections, espe-
cially in terms of socio-spatial struggles.
This paper seeks a better understanding of the dynamics of displacement and
resettlement processes involved in ﬂood mitigation measures that were being
implemented in Jakarta between 2015–17 in which residents’responses varied. In
doing so, this paper applies the notion of ‘domicide’to understand the nature and sym-
bolic meaning of a process that impacts the most vulnerable and marginalized groups
in society. Displacement means residents lose control over their homes and belongings
together with self-esteem, cultural identity, social networks, and place attachment
(Porteous & Smith, 2001; Dwivedi, 1999). Such effects tend to be overlooked and
unaccounted for in eviction compensation. Without pushing ﬂood issues aside, this
study aims to uncover the underpinning discourses of ‘risk’and ‘public good’that were
used to justify relocation of riverbank kampung dwellers. It connects them with wider
economic and political processes—forces which have been inﬂuencing the urban devel-
opment mode of Jakarta, and the politics of ‘displacement’that are predominant in the
city. Moreover, with the emergence of housing activism in some of the affected
kampungs, this research also brings social innovation into the debate. It adds nuance to
2Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
Porteous and Smith’s conception of resistance in which transformative change occurs.
Based on those objectives, this paper questions and challenges the current ofﬁcial plans
and policies, and aims to contribute to fairer resettlement planning.
The paper is structured as follows. First, a theoretical framework on domicide and
social innovation is sketched, followed by an introduction of the context, the historical
experience of kampungs, and the perpetuation of everyday domicide in globalizing
Jakarta. The next sections deal with evictions and resistance in Bukit Duri and
Kampung Pulo which ended up in unfortunate circumstances and explore the emer-
gence of social innovation in Kampung Tongkol, Lodan, and Krapu. Both case studies
are discussed in the subsequent sections to illustrate the dynamics of displacement,
resettlement, and resistance with regards to ﬂood mitigation measures. The paper con-
cludes with a reﬂection on the theoretical framework informed by the main ﬁndings
and some recommendations.
Research context, theoretical approaches and methodology
Everyday domicide accompanies globalization reﬂecting socio-spatial inequalities
(Porteous & Smith, 2001). However, as globalization is path-dependent, historical
insights on the trajectory of the speciﬁc urban regime is crucial to unpack how global
forces intertwine with local situations (Brickell et al., 2017; Sager, 2011). In the case of
Jakarta, globalization interacts with the desire of the city’s postcolonial elites to remake
the city. However, this intensiﬁes socio-spatial polarization, including for instance, the
Figure 1. Major displacements in Jakarta between 2014–17.
Source: Outlined from Jakarta Spatial Plan 2010–30, using data from various sources.
Figure drawn by the ﬁrst author.
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 3
struggle over property ownership and housing rights of marginalized kampung
dwellers, as studied in this paper.
Polarization is exacerbated in times of crisis. Many urban regeneration projects are
targeting impoverished settlements not necessarily because they are the most in need
of upgrading, but because they reserve the most potential sites for high-end residential
and commercial redevelopment projects. Moreover, forced eviction that disguises itself
as a ‘negotiated’displacement is often portrayed as a good governance practice in
which the authorities use their power of expropriation, or at least enact regulation, to
dislocate urban poor from their land in the name of public improvement (Durand-
Lasserve, 2006). Such logic disregards the human agency of the displaced throughout
the process (Wilmsen & Webber, 2015) and allows the rest of the society to naturalize
the act as an inevitable sacriﬁce for the greater good (Harvey, 2012; Durand-
Lasserve, 2006; Porteous & Smith, 2001). It could temper the questions of unfairness
or reduce the social suffering of affected ones to a matter of compensation and property
rights (see Zhang, 2018 in the case of Shanghai). Displacement is a form of violence
that often obscures the objective truth of injustice and secures social domination. The
effects are even more lethal for the victims as they would easily accept intimidation
and acts of violence in exchange for monetary compensation or resettlement plans and
thus, conﬁrm their subordination (Zhang, 2018).
Nevertheless, in the struggles to claim ‘the right to the city’, there is always room
for resistance as the city becomes an entry-point for counter-hegemonic movements
and political activism in seeking socio-spatial justice and commonality (Harvey, 2012;
Oliver-Smith, 2006). Essentially, through resistance against oppression or exploitation,
the city also becomes a catalyst for new political imaginaries and ﬁnally, the improve-
ment of governance (Chatterton, 2010; Bonefeld, 2008). Such possibility is one thing
that Porteous and Smith neglected in their original exploration of domicide as even the
smallest everyday practices can express a resistance to home destruction (see
Nowicki, 2014). Additionally, discourses about neoliberalism also tend to depict the
‘economy’as a monolithic entity without taking into account its social dynamics. In
that regard, we need an alternative analytical approach towards social and economic
transformations in society (Van Dyck & Van den Broeck, 2013; Harvey, 2012). Here
the concept of social innovation is useful to understand the socio-political dynamics of
grassroots’mobilizations in response to various forms of exclusion, including displace-
ment, as they may have a wide range of goals, strategies, and outcomes (Oliver-
Smith, 2006). This concept invokes an ‘innovation in social relations, as well as in
meeting human needs’(MacCallum et al., 2009), speciﬁcally basic ones that fail to be
satisﬁed by existing practices and policy structures (Oosterlynck et al., 2013). It emerges
collectively from the local neighbourhood level, when there is a ‘spatial concentration’
of economic restructuring and exclusionary practices (Moulaert et al., 2010: 11).
The transformative potential of social innovation lies in the empowerment dimen-
sion and multi-scalar mobilization (Moulaert & MacCallum, 2019). The former compo-
nent presupposes an expansion of human agency and an enabling institutional
environment that would provide people with more power and opportunities to exert
changes, or what Alsop and Heinsohn (2005) refer to as the ‘opportunity structure’
which comprises formal and informal contexts within which the agency is exercised.
They include access to information, degree of inclusion or participation, accountability,
and local organizational capacity (Narayan, 2005). Agency means having the ability to
reason and act because of what one values (Malhotra, 2003: 3). Together with empow-
erment, agency has been regarded as the key ingredient of positive social change in
4Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
poverty reduction efforts (Ibrahim & Alkire, 2007; Alkire, 2005). Although both are
experienced and analysed at the individual or household level, agency and empower-
ment can be exercised in groups through community organization (Speer &
Hughey, 1995). When political empowerment occurs at a community level, people
with a shared identity gain more power to act collectively and establish cross-sector col-
laborations (Blanco & León, 2017 after Speer & Hughey, 1995). From an understand-
ing that these locally-impacting evictions are connected to global forces, the following
section contextualizes our case studies of displacement in a broader political economy
frame. It also draws attention to the ambivalent status of kampung settlements as the
victims of displacement and dispossession in the name of public improvement. Mean-
while, our analysis of the case studies illustrates the dynamics of displacement and
resettlement that are impacting local communities’livelihoods, but are also nuanced by
the practices of affected families in response to their circumstances.
For this research, qualitative methods were employed to unpack a complex social
phenomenon. Therefore, ﬁeldwork was crucial to getting a deeper understanding and
obtaining information using the designed methods. Sixteen semi-structured interviews
were conducted in April 2017 with key interlocutors from the communities and local
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Ciliwung Merdeka, Urban Poor
Consortium, residents of Kampung Tongkol, as well as relocated communities from
Kampung Kunir in Rusunawa Marunda, North Jakarta; representatives from respective
government agencies, including the Deputy Governor for Spatial Planning and Envi-
ronment of DKI Jakarta, ofﬁcial staff members of the Housing and Administrative
Buildings Agency, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, as well as the manage-
ment unit of Rusunawa Marunda. This approach also included site observation and
ofﬁcial document analysis. These primary data were supplemented with secondary data
from newspaper articles.
Jakarta: The globalizing city and the lurking kampungs
The one time colonial capital of the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), Jakarta is now
a megacity with a population exceeding 10.37 million (2017) within a total area of
. Together with its satellite towns, i.e. Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi,
the agglomeration of Jakarta Metropolitan Region seems to be gearing up for the
‘global city’status that has long been aimed for. Since Indonesia proclaimed indepen-
dence in 1945, Jakarta has been evolving into a centre for services and ﬁnance, while
the surrounding towns serve as industrial and new residential areas sustaining the
growing population (Firman, 1998; 1999). Nevertheless, such transformation processes
have frequently been at the expense of social inclusion and environmental sustainabil-
ity, resulting in uneven development and accumulated environmental problems. They
include worsening ﬂood and land subsidence issues affecting deprived kampung settle-
ments along the waterways. In fact, massive urban development contributes to the
intensiﬁcation of these hazards. This section provides a historical explanation of
Jakarta’s urban development trajectory through the reading of kampungs’spatial trans-
formations to highlight some signiﬁcant urban projects that involve displacement in
different regulatory regimes by drawing on prior scholarship (Kusno, 2015;
Silver, 2007; Marcussen, 1990). They illustrate the predominance of creative destruc-
tion as an engine of development and the enduring struggle to secure adequate hous-
ing for low-income groups in Jakarta that has hardly been tackled.
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 5
Historically Jakarta has been part of global networks since the arrival of the VOC in
Batavia (old Jakarta) in the ﬁrst wave of imperialism in the sixteenth century to
expand its mercantile business in Asia. Batavia inevitably became a node in the world-
wide exchange network with ﬂows of goods, knowledge, capital, and people (Shannon
et al., 2008: 191–2). It was characterized by a fortiﬁed centre with networks of modiﬁed
and regulated rivers modelled after the Dutch canal system. Nevertheless, a cata-
strophic malaria outbreak in 1733 rendered the city unhealthy and forced half of the
population to relocate further south. The outbreak conﬁrmed the context-insensitive
nature of early colonial urbanization that resulted in a drastic structural change of the
water system yielding breeding grounds for mosquitoes (De Meulder, 2013). With the
instalment of new roads, tramlines, and other infrastructure, the centre of the colonial
capital moved towards Weltervreden in the higher ground, while the inner-city was
left to poor migrants. In the following decades, the city grew rapidly, especially when
planners and architects from the Netherlands were delegated to develop a new spatial
plan for residential development which was ostensibly designed based on ‘ethnic segre-
gation and apartheid spatial order’(Evers & Korff, 2000: 183 in Wiryomartono, 2012).
Prime areas, such as Gondangdia, Menteng, and Meester Cornelis, were designated as
zones for the Europeans, while less desirable parcels were left for indigenous people
and migrants who crowded the many kampungs (Wiryomartono, 2012; Silver, 2007:
60). However, colonial planning logics did not necessarily end with Independence in
1945 (see King, 1990: 42–6).
The post-Independence era revealed Jakarta’sunﬁnished business of transcending
the colonial past, and reimagining and creating a new identity (Kusno, 2000: 56–62).
This reimagining manifested itself in the architecture of the city through an array of
urban mega projects that would symbolize the recently independent nation as an
emerging force in Asia, as envisioned by the ﬁrst President, Sukarno. However,
kampung settlements remained marginal. As soon as Indonesia picked up the baton to
host the fourth Asian Games in 1962, new highways, hotels, and sports complexes
were constructed, for which more than 60 000 residents were evicted to clear out
300 ha of land for the projects (Tirto.id, 2018). However, the eviction was unopposed
by most of the affected families as they were lulled by the same spirit of national pro-
gress to ensure the success of the international event, and received monetary compen-
sation and relocation sites. However, when Soeharto’s New Order (1966–98)
succeeded Sukarno’s presidency, kampung settlements received some attention under
Ali Sadikin’s gubernatorial administration. It led to the well-known Kampung
Improvement Programme (KIP), an internationally praised slum-upgrading initiative
through which basic urban services were implanted in urban kampungs for a healthier
living environment. During this transition period, nonetheless, the socio-political insta-
bility and extreme poverty in rural Java drew many poor villagers to seek refuge in
Jakarta, after which they found themselves in the informal sectors, often homeless or
mobile (Kusno, 2010). In this case, eviction was still a formal procedure that was used
as a preventative measure to ‘clean out’the city and maintain public order. Evictions
triggered by state-led urban projects were also noticeable during Ali Sadikin’s adminis-
tration which again victimized kampung communities. Meanwhile, KIP seemed no lon-
ger a planning priority for the central government in the long run, especially since the
establishment of the PERUMNAS (National Corporation for the Development of Hous-
ing) in 1974. By then, the focus of Jakarta’s urban development was directed towards
the provision of private housing in the outskirts (Silver, 2007: 142–3), and the
upgraded kampung settlements in the core area were later replaced by new business
6Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
and commercial districts as well as high-end residential areas (Hudalah &
During the New Order regime, new township development projects and land specu-
lation intensiﬁed and transformed the physical landscape of Jakarta. Fuelled by oil rev-
enue, the development model of the New Order era strongly reﬂected the
‘fragmentative interplay between global and local forces’(Rosenau & Wildsmith, 2013)
with dependence on foreign investors and professional expertise. The aspiration to
make Jakarta a modern ‘world city’advanced at this time. Networks of elevated high-
ways were built along with shopping malls, ofﬁce towers, and luxurious houses signify-
ing the unprecedented progress of a ‘developmentalist’regime that measures its
achievement through the way the city is represented (Kusno, 2000). At that time,
Jakarta was regarded as ‘the project city’as this practice was also accompanied by
deregulation of many policies, particularly in investment and land use permits
(Kusno, 2013: xiv) through which more spaces had been given to the private sectors
and foreign investors. On the other hand, a huge number of migrants ﬂocked to
Jakarta because of the demand of construction labour. The migrants incrementally set-
tled in vacant areas that were usually subject to legal dispute, or alternatively, squeezed
themselves into dilapidated units in existing kampungs (Peresthu, 2002). These settle-
ments were largely unregistered due to legal dualism of land between customary rights
inherited from the Dutch colonial system (girik or garapan) and rights registered at the
National Land Agency, and limited access to land registration services. Moreover, the
governor at the end of the New Order era, Sutiyoso (1997–2006), blatantly positioned
himself against kampung communities, (particularly those settled along the riverbank
and in coastal areas), street vendors, homeless people and trishaw drivers that were
ubiquitous during the 1997’s economic crisis. During Sutiyoso’s administration, at least
60 000 people were displaced and barely compensated, let alone rehoused to make
way for high-end commercial projects to take place (Human Rights Watch, 2006). The
operations used excessive military force. Sutiyoso is remembered as the harshest gover-
nor in Jakarta’s modern history, supported by big developers, corporations, and politi-
cal elites whose interests were served by kampung removal (Davis, 2007: 113). In
many cases, informal settlements were mostly regarded as a threat because their pres-
ence also reﬂected the government’s failure to satisfy the basic needs of a huge number
of poor people which they preferred not to acknowledge (Jenkins, 2006).
In the subsequent post-reform regime under the leadership of President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono (2004–14), increasing population and housing problems in the
capital city became serious concerns for the central government. To achieve the world-
class service-city status, the central government urged the city administration of Jakarta
to provide housing for low-income people through the 1000 Tower programme,
despite land scarcity (Kusno, 2012). However, the ruling governor, Fauzi Bowo (2007–
12), was keen on greening the city to attract people back to the city after the Asian
ﬁnancial crisis of the late 1990s. This ambition was more favourable for capital invest-
ment and in tune with the aspirations of the growing middle class at that time
(Kusno, 2011). To boost the percentage of green open spaces, the city government
cleared out thousands of irregular houses and small-scale business units, including
ceramic vendors in Rawa Sari and residents in Taman BMW (Kusno, 2011). But, as
many had predicted, this ambition fell short of its intention to restore green spaces,
instead the cleared out areas were later taken over by private developers for commer-
cial interests. Likewise, the 1000 Towers programme initiated by the central govern-
ment that was ﬁnally underway turned out to be an instrument for private developers
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 7
to sustain and expand their business on upper-middle class condominiums, given the
subsidy and its strategic locations. Consequently, the short-lived programme came to
an end in 2010 when the subsidy was stopped, causing many apartment constructions
to come to a halt (Kusno, 2012).
Nevertheless, when Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) ran for Jakarta’s
gubernatorial candidacy in 2012, he visited Jakarta kampungs to gain electoral support.
From those meetings, Jokowi came up with the Kampung Deret (row kampung) idea as
the featured programme of his campaign. The programme would renovate substandard
houses and develop kampungs based on their socio-economic potential. It required res-
idents to have evidence of formal or semiformal land tenure in hand to be eligible for
the programme. Residents holding informal land tenure would be given land titles if
they could prove an occupancy of more than 20 years. Unfortunately, when Jokowi
became a candidate for Indonesia’s presidency in 2014, the Kampung Deret programme
ended due to unresolved legal issues relating to land ownership. By then, the pro-
gramme had only been implemented in Tanah Tinggi, (Johar Baru), Petogogan
(Kebayoran Baru), Cilincing (Koja), and Cipinang Besar Selatan (Jatinegara) out of
100 kampungs that were targeted. Apart from that, eviction threats were still plaguing
other kampungs, especially those settled around water catchment areas. For instance,
following severe ﬂooding in 2013 in which a large area of the city was inundated for
days, Jokowi had to take immediate measures to mitigate future risks, including dredg-
ing of and greening around several reservoirs in the city: Pluit Dam, an 80 ha water
reservoir in Penjaringan, North Jakarta and Ria Rio Dam that covers 26 ha of the area
in Pulomas, East Jakarta. The same reasons also led to the implementation of the River
Normalization Project that affected our case studies, as explained in the following sec-
tions. Unlike his predecessor, Jokowi with his populist style opened dialogue with
affected communities on compensation and relocation sites. However, when Jokowi
left the ofﬁce and passed the baton on to his successor, Basuki Purnama (nicknamed
Ahok), the process was interrupted and residents from both locations had to move to
several rusunawas. Some hundreds of families from Pluit Dam were relocated to
Muara Baru, Marunda, and Angke in North Jakarta, Pulogebang in East Jakarta and
Cengkareng in West Jakarta, while more than 500 families from Ria Rio Dam were
relocated in stages to Rusunawa Cakung, Pulogebang, and Jatinegara Kaum (Jakarta
Post, 2013; 2014, consult Figure 1). Subsequently, parts of these reservoirs’watershed
areas have been converted into two new public parks, celebrated by the rest of the city.
By reﬂecting on the trajectory of Jakarta’s urban development, it is evident that
eviction has played an instrumental part in the city’s urban restructuring process—with
each regulatory regime advancing its own agendas through urban projects. However,
with aggravated ﬂood and land subsidence issues that signalize fragility and risk to
investors, the focus of Jakarta’s current government inevitably revolves around envi-
ronmental rehabilitation and ﬂood protection. Despite existing studies that suggest
comprehensive solutions (Padawangi & Douglass, 2015; Caljouw et al., 2005) through
collaborative planning and community empowerment (Simarmata, 2015;
Padawangi, 2014; Akmalah & Grigg, 2011), the government came up with a single
solution of high-investment technical intervention (i.e. waterways embankments). This
approaches the hazard as a merely natural phenomenon, neglecting wider human
agency (Padawangi & Douglass, 2015; Texier, 2008; Steinberg, 2007). In this context,
marginalized kampung communities are likely to be displaced amidst redevelopment,
given their socio-spatial position and the underpinning tenure problems. Similar to
eviction, the provision of rusunawa or low-cost rental apartments is also not new to
8Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
Jakarta. It is a resurrection of the 1000 Tower programme that was halted in 2010. The
only difference is that it is now closely associated with the relocation of evictees as part
of ﬂood mitigation efforts. While the provision of rusunawa through resettlement plans
was a precondition for the ﬂood mitigation plan (World Bank, 2011), it was supposed
to be an answer to the problems of inadequate housing for low-income population and
land scarcity in the metropolis. Built in either a revitalized area in the inner city or a
new development land on the periphery, the construction of rusunawa is ﬁnanced by
government budgets and investors. This relationship between government and private
sector investors yields a land value capture practice that became a prototype for the
current administration, as the city is also undergoing massive restructuring accompany-
ing shifts to transit-oriented development (Deputy Governor of DKI Jakarta for Spatial
Planning and Environment, pers. comm., Jakarta, 12 April 2017). By the end of 2017,
there were 23 fully operational rusunawas with 15 291 units in total,
seemingly match the number of the total evictees during 2015–17, but will prove to be
fundamentally ﬂawed in reality, as revealed in the following sections.
The demolition of riverbank kampungs
In many other big cities in Indonesia, riverbank areas have typically been sites where
marginalization occurs as a result of ‘spatial uncertainties’speciﬁcally the inability of
the riverbank dwellers to secure spaces in the context of dominant urban aspirations
for improvement and development (Padawangi, 2019). Many underprivileged groups
end up residing in irregular kampung settlements along a river for access to basic sani-
tation, transportation, and livelihoods, claiming space in the city amidst the uncer-
tainties of everyday life (Hellman & van Voorst, 2018; Simone & Rao, 2012). Although
kampung communities generally live in precarious conditions, several studies have also
revealed a high degree of social cohesion, self-organization, and vigorous entrepre-
neurship that ﬂourish and strengthen during calamities (Hellman, 2015;
Wilhelm, 2011; Texier, 2008). With the initiation of engineering-heavy ﬂood mitiga-
tion measures that necessitate kampung removal in Jakarta, the waterfronts have
become areas of contestation over public safety and socio-spatial justice. While many
Jakarta residents consider these projects as improving measures because they relocate
affected communities to a safer and better place while at the same time protecting the
rest of the city from inundation, opposing groups (social activists, critical academics,
and conservationists) see them as undemocratic and unjust as they discriminate against
the most vulnerable and underprivileged groups. When such projects involve forced
evictions, tensions become a trigger for resistance by affected communities and their
supporting organizations. The ﬁrst case study of Bukit Duri and Kampung Pulo, shows
how ﬂood mitigation projects led to the removal of riverbank kampungs that possess
robust socio-economic potential for the city. It also observes the local NGOs contribu-
tion to the communities’capacity building capabilities and their ability to deﬁne risks
and concomitant compensation when faced with forced-evictions.
Situated across from each other in the meandering segment of Ciliwung river’s mid-
dle stream, both Bukit Duri and Kampung Pulo have been suffering from frequent riv-
erine ﬂooding, especially in periods of heavy rain. The most severe ﬂooding occurred
in 2007 when almost 60 per cent of Jakarta was inundated. In Bukit Duri and
Kampung Pulo alone, water levels reached to more than 5 m lasting up to 15 days
(Marschiavelli, 2008). However, as ﬂooding has been a regular event, living with it has
become a way of life. Thus, it is not surprising that the residents of both kampungs
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 9
have generated particular coping strategies based on their long experiences in dealing
with ﬂoods, not to mention their strong social bond that alleviates the rebuilding pro-
cess. Such strategies include an informal warning system, a security mechanism that
protects their valuables, evacuation procedures, as well as post-ﬂooding activities (van
Voorst, 2016; Hellman, 2015; Wilhelm, 2011). The history of these kampungs can be
traced to the sixteenth century when it was initially an area maintained by the Dutch
administration for logging businesses and plantations, where local people were
employed. Today, Bukit Duri and Kampung Pulo are densely populated areas with
over 48 000 people. With the majority of the livelihoods relying on the informal sector,
the residents are typically but not exclusively low-income families (Vollmer
et al., 2015). Located near two railway stations of Manggarai and Jatinegara as well as
a regional market, Bukit Duri and Kampung Pulo are also abuzz with micro-
entrepreneurial activities, such as those carried out by home-based food industries and
street vendors. Some of these entrepreneurs may open up warung (small kiosks) in
their houses, selling food, snacks, or other everyday goods to serve their
neighbourhood (Hellman, 2015). These kinds of economic activities can thrive any-
where and survive in any situation. For instance, these merchants persevered through
the monetary crisis that hit Jakarta in 1997 (Sandyawan Sumardi, pers. comm.,
Jakarta, 5 April 2017). Their resilience capacity was partly due to the existence of local
NGO, Sanggar Ciliwung Merdeka (hereafter referred to as CM). Assisting both
kampungs for almost twenty years, CM has signiﬁcantly transformed the living condi-
tions and social relations among kampung dwellers. Their initiatives include the con-
struction of retaining walls alongside the riverbank, a composting house to process
domestic waste, eretan (bamboo rafts to connect both kampungs), the instalment of dis-
tillation pumps for clean water in several locations, as well as the conducting of educa-
tional classes for children and participatory community mapping to identify the socio-
economic potentials of and ﬂood-prone areas in both kampungs (Padawangi,
et al., 2016). That is to say, CM has contributed to the communities’enhanced capacity
to satisfy their own basic needs and develop resilience in the prolonged absence of gov-
ernment interventions. Nevertheless, despite their socio-economic potential, kampung
people and their informal livelihoods are often stigmatized as a ‘parasitic burden’
(Tilley, 2017; Tilley et al., 2019) for causing many problems, e.g. trafﬁc jams or ﬂooding
in the metropolitan city. As kampung settlements are marginalized in the midst of the
rapid transformation of the city, the government extensively conﬂates them with
‘squatters’(Tilley, 2017; Tilley et al., 2019).
When confronted with the river normalization project, the residents of Bukit Duri
and Kampung Pulo were not necessarily against it. They demanded fair monetary com-
pensation and a more humane relocation process as was promised by governor Jokowi
and vice governor Ahok at the beginning of their administration, ‘menggeser bukan
menggusur’(relocating instead of evicting). Sandyawan Sumardi, the head of CM, recal-
led that when Jokowi and Ahok visited Bukit Duri in mid-2012 as a candidate pair for
the Jakarta Gubernatorial Elections, issues of adequate housing and protection from
forced evictions were on the table. At that time, rumours about relocation plans had
spread throughout the kampung as the ‘normalization’project had just been launched
earlier in January. It included the construction of concrete embankments along the
designated ﬂoodway and 7.5–10 m clearance of setback area. At that moment, CM
with the help of an architecture bureau, Studio Akanoma, proposed the conceptual
design of Kampung Susun or Bukit Duri as an alternative solution to the relocation plan
that would allow them to stay put in their land, yet still be in accordance with the plan.
10 Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
The proposition was based on participatory mapping activities that had been conducted
by CM in Bukit Duri which principally suggested a multi-story public housing that
adopts the characteristics of kampung life. One of the design strategies was to dedicate
the ground ﬂoor area for social interaction and economic activities, be that for meet-
ings, gatherings, or marketplaces. The building blocks would be staggered to respect
the topography and densiﬁed to respond to the number of residents, however, con-
struction would be limited to no higher than ﬁve stories to achieve cost efﬁciencies and
to allow natural surveillance of the street. During the meeting, Jokowi was impressed
by those ideas, that later evolved to become known as the Kampung Deret programme.
Nevertheless, after several negotiations, the city government changed directions and
eventually crusaded eviction. The riverbank kampung communities were instructed to
move as soon as possible, with no rights to compensation (New Mandala, 2015). In
doing so, the authorities also applied speciﬁc mechanisms, as noted by Sumardi and
LBH Jakarta (2017) which included stigmatization, limited consultation with affected
families, mobilizing an excessive number of joint military forces to intimidate, and data
manipulation. These unsympathetic treatments effectively undermined the
community’s trust in the government.
Furthermore, on 20 August 2015, a clash occurred in Kampung Pulo when military
forces were in the midst of demolishing 518 houses. About 920 families were relocated
to Rusunawa Jatinegara Barat at the northeast end of the kampung (LBH Jakarta,
2016a). That event engendered fear and became a kind of ‘shock therapy’for the
neighbouring Bukit Duri’s residents who were facing eviction in the following months.
Within a short period, CM subsequently took preventive action for Bukit Duri’s resi-
dents by preparing sufﬁcient shreds of evidence, including pictures and documentation
of houses and land certiﬁcates. Regardless of these efforts, the ﬁrst eviction in Bukit
Duri was carried out on 12 January 2016. By this time, most of the residents had dis-
mantled their houses to minimize losses as the district ofﬁcials had warned them.
About 163 households were relocated to Rusunawa Cipinang Besar Selatan and Pulo
Gebang. Amidst the increasing distress among residents of Kampung Bukit Duri, CM
continued to hold the annual ‘Bukit Duri People’s Market Festival’, for the last time, as
a means of enhancing community spirit and encouraging residents to claim for fair
compensation. During that event, a consolidation to sue for class action was initiated.
Nevertheless, at the beginning of September 2016, a second notice ensued, followed by
aﬁnal notice two weeks after, despite ongoing class action suits. At that time, the resi-
dents were divided into those who opted to move into rusunawa and others who
remained in the kampung. At the end of the month, a major eviction took place,
accompanied by a peaceful rally led by CM, demonstrating the residents’ability to
remain digniﬁed despite facing major injustices. According to an ofﬁcial report publi-
shed by LBH Jakarta (2017), no less than 363 houses were demolished on that day,
including CM. Finally, another eviction occurred in the mid of July 2017, causing
another 358 families to lose their homes.
Although the evictions were supported by resettlement policies and plans through
the provision of rusunawa, the planning and implementation processes were inade-
quately executed. Notably, it was the lack of supervision and consultation, both exter-
nally and internally, during the identiﬁcation process of the project-affected persons,
that ultimately led to the misappropriation and mismanagement of the resettlement
plans. In April 2017, CM published an ofﬁcial report that revealed data manipulation
in the resettlement process of Bukit Duri residents to Rusunawa Rawa Bebek (Ciliwung
Merdeka, 2017). A discrepancy appeared between the number of relocatees suggested
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 11
by the municipal government of South Jakarta and their ﬁndings on the ﬁeld.
According to the report, out of the 400 units that were provided, only 121 units were
occupied by evicted families. Twelve units were still vacant and the rest of the 267 units
were apparently occupied by those who were not affected by the JUFMP and/or did
not own plots in Bukit Duri. The ofﬁcials used the number to prove that more than
half of the residents had been guardedly moved to rusunawa, justifying ﬁnal eviction
in 2017. Moreover, after being uprooted from their livelihoods, the fact that they had
to pay monthly rent added more difﬁculties to the relocatees. In Rusunawa Jatinegara
Barat, about 150 families received warning letters because their rent was in arrears for
more than six months. Forcibly evicted from Kampung Pulo, they remain at risk of fur-
ther eviction as they had signed an agreement letter beforehand, stating that residents
would have to leave their units if they failed to pay the rent for three consecutive
months (Jakarta Post, 2016). Up till January 2017, the arrears in Rusunawa Jatinegara
Barat had reached IDR 400 000 000 (USD 29 100). In Rusunawa Marunda, the
arrears reached as much as IDR 10 billion (USD 728 400), with relocatees accounting
for 65 per cent of those ﬁgures. Many rusunawas also experienced similar problems.
By June 2017, the total arrears from all rusunawas exceeded IDR 32 billion (USD
2.3 million) which the city government eventually bore (Media Indonesia, 2017), lead-
ing to a multitude of social and economic problems that continued to burden the gov-
ernment in the long run. As rental fees and bills kept coming, the relocated families
could not manage to maintain their income. According to LBH Jakarta (2016b),
kampung residents who earned money from home-industries, food-selling, warung,or
renting their rooms were most likely to suffer from losing their livelihoods. That was
an important aspect that the authorities seemed to have overlooked. Kampung people
usually utilize their houses for living as well as livelihoods-production. The 30–36 m
room units in rusunawa are often insufﬁcient to accommodate all family members,
let alone facilitate home-based industries. Even if residents managed to do so, their
secluded locations and social networks restricted them from ﬁnding their markets (see
also Tilley et al., 2019). This corresponds to another report by LBH Jakarta (2016b) that
showed an increase in the number of residents with income below the regional mini-
mum wage of IDR 3 100 000 (USD 226) from 65.6 per cent before eviction to 72.8
per cent after relocation to rusunawa.
Riverbank kampungs reinvented
Although eviction seemed inevitable, a ‘socially innovative’‘crack of hope’(Moulaert
et al., 2010: 11) emerged in Ciliwung’s lower stream. In contrast with previous cases,
these cases illustrate how the magnitude of eviction that occurred in many kampungs
throughout the city had built a momentum of change for some—that pulled them
together as a community, raising consciousness in many aspects of their wellbeing,
while discovering stronger forms of resistance. The residents of Kampung Tongkol,
Lodan, and Krapu in Ancol sub-district, whom did not communicate with each other
before, assembled as one community in Ciliwung’s tributary kampungs (Komunitas
Anak Kali Ciliwung, KAKC) and sought to negotiate with the authorities on proactive
solutions that were less exhausting and more ‘exciting’than going through legal pro-
cesses like in the Bukit Duri case. They joined forces with a stronger grassroots organi-
zation, the JRMK (Jaringan Rakyat Miskin Kota, Urban Poor Network) of UPC (Urban
Poor Consortium), that has had a long history of urban poor mobilization and whose
networks are widespread throughout the country and beyond. The UPC began its
12 Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
movement after the fall of the New Order era in 1998 focused on community capacity
building through leadership training and legal education for Community Organizers
(COs). With the incorporation of the KAKC into this network, the kampung residents
adopted UPC’s organizational strategies and formulated new collective actions to with-
These tributary kampungs cannot be separated from the long history of Batavia (old
Jakarta) dating back to the VOC era in which the ﬁrst fort (Kasteel Batavia) and ware-
houses built were located adjacent to where the kampungs are today. Kampung
Tongkol was established in 1970 as an additional residence for the staff of Ditpalad Mil-
itary Command, while Kampung Balokan and Kencur were intended to house the
employees of nearby warehouses and factories. In the following decades, the next gen-
erations built houses next to their parents and new migrants also resided there because
of its proximity to some primary workplaces, such as Mangga Dua, Glodok, Pasar Baru,
Pasar Pagi, and Pelelangan. Their residence, however, was not necessarily accompanied
by solid proof of land ownership, except land tax payment receipts and Sporadik.
Therefore, after receiving the ﬁrst eviction notice at the end of 2014, the residents of
Kampung Krapu, Tongkol, Kencur, Japat, and Lodan as well as Kampung Kunir and
Balokan in Pinangsia sub-district voluntarily cleared out a 5-m setback and dismantled
their houses to move behind the line. They hoped for this to be the win-win solution
to counter the relocation plan, but it eventually failed. In May 2015, about 178 families
in the neighbouring Kampung Kunir in Pinangsia sub-district were evicted and most of
them had to move to Rusunawa Marunda as the city administration was planning to
clear up the river’s setback area for the building of an inspection road as part of the
JUFMP project realization. It was followed by a massive eviction of Pasar Ikan and
Kampung Akuarium, the surrounding area of the Maritime Museum, 500 m to the
northwest, where more than 690 houses were demolished to make way for the giant
sea wall project and the revitalization of Sunda Kelapa old harbour in April 2016 (LBH
Jakarta, 2016c). In light of the facts, the residents of these remaining kampungs were
desperately in need of a more tangible movement to liven up their spirits for a hopeful
Situated on the bank of Ciliwung tributary, these kampungs are part of ‘linked
which are not necessarily ﬂood-prone as the lower segments of the Ciliwung
river have been regulated. The idea of dismantling their houses was in fact based on
previous establishments by the city. Looking back in 1994 when PROKASIH (Program
Kali Bersih, Clean River Programme) was carried out, the authorities had already
acquired about 4–5 m of the riverbanks for concrete embankment, the construction of
inspection roads, as well as installation of a drainage system which was then left
incomplete and abandoned, only to be re-occupied by the kampung residents. Follow-
ing the evictions in Kampung Kunir, KAKC geared up to continue to rehabilitate their
kampungs and contribute to the conservation of the river and the historic structures.
The role of COs within kampungs was central to the effectiveness of these movements.
The UPC’s community organization system spread throughout the city, empowering
and mobilizing kampung residents to be the main actors in the improvement of their
neighbourhoods. The movements also opened up new collaborations with other stake-
holders, such as the regional urban poor network, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights
(ACHR), local academics from the University of Indonesia, and the community archi-
tect group, Architecture Sans Frontier Indonesia (ASF-ID), (see also Batubara
et al., 2018 where such collaborative opportunity was referred to as an ‘emancipatory
promise’). Based on a potential map derived from participatory mapping conducted by
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 13
the Department of Architecture at the University of Indonesia, the kampung residents
envisioned their space as an ‘inspection kampung’.
As they disassembled their houses and moved beyond the 5-m margin, the river-
bank areas served as their front yard as well as a service road. Thus, instead of a con-
crete road, the kampung itself would be the buffer area and ‘regulator’of the river.
Additionally, with many productive fruit and vegetable trees in the area and ongoing
handicraft activities, it was suggested that the everyday life of kampung residents could
also be promoted as a source of attraction for urban tourism (Pusat Dokumentasi
Arsitektur, 2017). As a form of environmental contribution, the kampung residents
took the initiative to resuscitate an abandoned drainage structure built by the city gov-
ernment back in the 1900s by constructing a collective septic tank for sewage and
wastewater treatment systems. They also managed to reduce individual household
waste by 60–80 per cent with the assistance of LabTanya, a local architecture bureau,
that introduced household waste management through their ‘Kota Tanpa Sampah’(City
Without Garbage) programme. Moreover, the kampungs that were located in the his-
toric district of Old Town Jakarta also brought about new discourses i.e. ‘urban conser-
vation’and ‘urban tourism’to the case. Leveraging on the historic structures, the
residents of Kampung Tongkol also tore down the rear side of their houses and cleared
out the 8-m space area between the wall and their homes to pave way for a heritage
walk. While the development and identity-making of the historic Old Town district and
the coastal area of Jakarta were still limited to market-oriented approaches, their initia-
tive of building an ‘inspection kampung’added cultural and historical value to it. Not
only did the residents answer conservation issues with tourism initiatives, but they also
managed to address pressing spatial and architectural concerns of the riverbank
Moreover, because there were only a few square meters of living space left, the ren-
ovation works had to include reconstruction of some houses which required a substan-
tial amount of money. Since ﬁnances could not be quickly secured through collective
community savings solely, KAKC submitted a grant proposal to the ACHR’s Decent
Poor Fund Programme and won the second prize of USD 10 000 worth of revolving
loans which were used for constructing a prototype house. Gugun and Ina’s
were the ones who took the opportunity to rebuild their houses for the prototype,
along with six other families who were relatives. They were chosen not only because
their houses were desperately in need of refurbishment, but also because they were
the only ones who were brave enough to take the risk of loss if eviction occurred not-
withstanding. With the help of ASF-ID, the Prototype House was developed to accom-
modate six families in a three-story house consisting of four units that shared some
common facilities, including electricity, water supply, and sanitation. Built on-site col-
laboratively, the primary structures of the house were made out of lightweight and
easy-to-assemble materials. While timber from the ruins was recycled for the ﬂoors,
bamboo was introduced for the roof structure to keep the building lightweight. To this
extent, KAKC used the site, particularly the river setback area, as an ‘open assembly’
(Blanco & León, 2017) to exchange information regarding their initiatives as well as to
guarantee practical knowledge transfer through bamboo preservation and construction
workshops conducted by ASF-ID. Two months later, in January 2016, the Prototype
House was completed and showcased as an alternative housing solution for riverbank
settlement, making the kampung people’s resistance more legitimate and visible (see
14 Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
Finally, the collective actions of KAKC reached their deﬁning moment when
kampung residents participated in a ‘political contract’between JRMK and the candi-
date pair for Jakarta Gubernatorial Election, Anies-Sandi. This method had been used
by the UPC since 2007 i.e. during the 2007 Jakarta Gubernatorial Elections, then in the
2008 Makassar and 2010 Surabaya Mayoral Elections, and ﬁnally in the 2012 Jakarta
Gubernatorial and 2014 Presidential Elections, whereby Jokowi became the leading
and winning candidate in both instances (Literasi.co, 2017). Unlike previous cases, the
urban poor stayed independent from the pair’s campaign team to avoid clientelistic alli-
ances of receiving cash payment for their votes (see also Savirani & Aspinall, 2017).
Instead, they used the opportunity to convey their pro-poor programmes and made
their efforts more impactful by proposing a set of legally binding conditions to the can-
didate pair in exchange for a speciﬁc number of electoral votes. That would be
achieved through voluntary peer-to-peer persuasion, a method that was introduced by
the ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Therefore, in
April 2017, 31 entities under the ﬂag of JRMK which included 26 kampungs through-
out Jakarta, Serikat Becak (trishaw drivers’union), three street vendor groups, and
one rusunawa held a signing ceremony in Kampung Tongkol with the candidate pair
Anies-Sandi. The binding conditions agreed upon included a spatial plan for kampung
settlement, land legalization, affordable housing programmes for the urban poor, busi-
ness licensing for street vendors; and job-shift support for rickshaw drivers.
By leveraging on available resources and support from community networks, these
kampung residents took up political momentum not only to seek a redeﬁnition of riv-
erbank settlement and alternatives to resettlement, but also to conﬁrm their spatial
existence in the midst of a modernized city. The political contract option was selected
not necessarily to confront the eviction plan, but rather to claim visibility, legality, and
Figure 2. View from Kampung Lodan overlooking the Prototype House in Kampung Tongkol.
Source: Fieldwork, April 2017.
The making and unmaking of homes in the Ciliwung River 15
participation of the urban poor in the politics of ‘the right to the city’. By making such
moves, the urban poor caused an evolution in their relationship and communication
with the authorities—raising their struggles to regional and even national levels. In the
end, these problematic policies and projects were one of the reasons that cost the
incumbent pair of Ahok-Djarot their election at the beginning of 2017. This outcome
caused wide disappointment, considering the high satisfaction rate for their perfor-
mances in ofﬁce (see, for example, New Mandala, 2017). One could posit that the
incumbent pair lost their votes because they failed to acknowledge social fragmenta-
tion, by leaning on more tangible projects favouring the urban middle class in their
previous administration. They had misjudged on the capacity of the urban poor to
resist and ‘ﬁght back’. To this extent, residents from the tributary kampungs might
have changed the game, at least for the next ﬁve-year term.
Drawing on theories of domicide and social innovation, this study has attempted to
untangle the complex dynamics of displacement that took place in Jakarta between
2015–17. It revealed the connection of displacement to the city’s urban development
trajectory and the continuous struggle over adequate housing for low-income groups.
In this instance, the availability of existing local organizations and trajectories plays a
signiﬁcant role in determining the deﬁnition of risks (Dwivedi, 1999), scale of empow-
erment, and forms of resistance. In the ﬁrst case of Bukit Duri and Kampung Pulo, the
fact that CM’s community organization had been directed towards negotiating with the
city government rendered their movements vulnerable to shifting political decisions.
That was in addition to time constraints and the number of families they had to cover
which limited the community organization and mobilization processes in face of evic-
tion. Consequently, kampung residents had varying responses when confronted with
the relocation plan as decisions were made primarily at the household level. Neverthe-
less, their movements set a reference point for other riverbank communities to move
forward with their resistance. In the light of intensiﬁed threats of eviction, the second
case of KAKC revealed stronger neighbourhood mobilization through their afﬁliation
with the city-wide Urban Poor Network which uncovered the possibility of a more fun-
damental alternative local development strategy that prompted signiﬁcant changes.
This kind of multi-scalar organizational structure appears to be crucial in unleashing
the ‘social power’(Speer & Hughey, 1995) of communities to collectively pursue a
common goal. That which emerges from changed relationships within and between
local communities and the traditional politics, radical participative perspectives, as well
as the evolving roles of local communities, NGOs, individual families, and community
leaders. Nevertheless, the biggest question will always be on the durability of such local
initiatives since they often rely on many ‘temporary’factors, which in this case, would
be the institutionalization process of the political contract, electoral contestation, and
community mobilization. Further research is needed to assess the impact and sustain-
ability of such initiatives in the long-run.
Jakarta has been a ‘battleﬁeld’for the politics of inclusion and exclusion in search
of an Indonesian identity. However, following Kusno’s (2014: 212) argument that ‘in
the case of Indonesia, the dialogue with the colonial past has resulted, among other
things, in the reproduction of a form of colonialism itself’, Jakarta’s development has
arguably involved a new form of exclusion. Capital investment is not necessarily bad.
However, while ﬂood protection and physical improvement is essential, the way it is
16 Anastasia Widyaningsih and Pieter Van den Broeck
implemented matters. Contestation from the grassroots was apparent from the fact that
local communities were able to inﬂuence some eviction policies—indicating how social
resistance can lead to social innovation. As such, through mobilizing social innovation
literature, these ﬁndings bring theoretical nuance to the (rather structuralist) political
economy literature on everyday domicide, as reviewed above. Eviction can be con-
tested, challenged, shaped, and transformed when local communities succeed in
empowering themselves and ﬁnding alternative solutions. In the case of Kampung
Tongkol, such empowerment was demonstrated in the way residents managed to
negotiate with politicians and other powerful actors, build support from NGOs and
other social networks, whilst simultaneously developing leadership capacities amongst
This work would not have been possible without ﬁnancial support from the VLIR-UOS for the ﬁrst
author to complete her Master’s degree for which this research was conducted and a travel grant
from the Department of Architecture, KU Leuven for the ﬁeldwork.
1 Based on data from the Housing and Administrative Building Agency, and ﬁeldwork in Jakarta,
2 Statements of physical possession of land and buildings on state land.
3 Linked sites are not included in the JUFMP ﬁnancial scheme but are signiﬁcantly related and
targeted by the authorities to guarantee the accomplishment of the project’s goals.
4 Gugun Muhammad and Ina are a married couple, residents of Kampung Tongkol, and also
afﬁliated as urban poor activists. Gugun acts as the CO of the kampung who obtained leader-
ship training and legal education from the UPC-JRMK.
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