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The Citarum Program: Cleaning up Indonesia’s Citarum River

The Citarum is the longest and largest river in West Java, running 270km through thousands of communities to connect the people, villages and landscape of the most populous province in Indonesia.

It supports the food, water and electricity supply for 25 million people, irrigating hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice fields, and supplying the nation’s largest reservoir. It’s also one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

Over the past decade, Monash University has been forging alliances with local governments and agencies to better-understand and help transform systems for sustainable development in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

This includes a unique action-research model that sees interventions implemented, and generates scientific evidence on the impacts of those interventions – evidence that policymakers can use to drive more inclusive policy and investment, especially for underserviced communities.

In 2018, Monash and Universitas Indonesia were invited by the Governor of West Java, H.E. Ridwan Kamil, to contribute ideas to support the Citarum Harum and the Citarum Satuan Tugas (SATGAS) – the taskforce leading the Citarum action plan.

Since then, researchers across six Monash faculties and institutes (Art, Design and Architecture; Monash Sustainable Development Institute; Arts; Business and Economics; Engineering, Law; and Science) have been collaborating with Universitas Indonesia, the Indonesian government, communities, local NGOs and the global research community to create a transdisciplinary approach to river transformation.

The diverse and cross-disciplinary thinking spans and integrates urban design and design thinking, urban transformation through water-sensitive city and circular economy approaches, and sustainability transitions theory through social innovations and experimentation.

More Information

Co-design, testing and evidence generation in living community contexts draws on Monash University's research and experiences with the Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) program.

To learn more about the Citarum Program and similar initiatives, check out press release here.  

Latest update: 20.12.2023