First informal settlement receives RISE water and sanitation upgrades in Indonesia

Photo: Community members join special guests for the official opening of RISE’s demonstration site, Batua.

Residents of Batua settlement in Makassar City are the very first residents to have their neighbourhood upgraded with sustainable water and sanitation infrastructure, as part of the global action-research program Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE).

The newly upgraded neighbourhood was officially opened at a ceremony this morning, which was attended by the Governor of South Sulawesi, Nurdin Abdullah, Mayor of Makassar, Dr M Iqbal Samad Suhaeb SE., MT, Rector of Hasanuddin University, Professor Dwia Aries Tina Pulubuhu, Asian Development Bank Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Mr Bambang Susantono and the Australian Consul-General to Makassar, Mr Richard Matthews.

Mayor of Makassar, Dr M Iqbal Samad Suhaeb SE., MT, who officially opened the neighbourhood with a ceremonious ribbon cutting, said that upgrading Batua showcased Makassar City’s commitment to making the city healthier, safer and more liveable for its residents.

‘Urban expansion has been fast in Makassar, with thousands of people calling informal settlements home, so it is vital that we address the challenges that come with our ever-expanding city,’ he said.

Through innovative upgrading programs like RISE, we are improving water and wastewater management, flooding, and increasing our climate resilience for our communities.

Mayor of Makassar, Dr M Iqbal Samad Suhaeb SE., MT

Batua showcases RISE’s water-sensitive approach to upgrading informal settlements: the approach integrates infrastructure like wetlands, biofiltration gardens, stormwater harvesting and local sanitation systems based on ‘smart’ new septic tanks into buildings and landscapes.

Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering from the Informal Cities Lab at RISE lead university, Monash University’s Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, said the ‘nature-based solutions’ complement traditional centralised water systems.

These are very simple systems based on sand and gravel media, as well as plants to clean water. We have worked with the Batua community to build these systems themselves, so that they understand how it works and feel a sense of ownership.

Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering

Professor Tony Wong, Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) – the knowledge partner in design and supervision for the infrastructure – said it was about bringing innovative approaches to urban water management to informal settlements.

‘When the environment is contaminated, exposure affects many parts of the lives of people who live here,’ Professor Wong said. ‘By introducing water-sensitive technologies, we aim to deliver transformative change in informal settlements, and demonstrating the technologies here in Batua is the start of our journey’.

Dr Ihsan Latief from RISE, who led the construction of the upgrades, led guests on a tour of the infrastructure. ‘These upgrades are the direct result of men, women, youth and children from Batua having come together to co-design the infrastructure alongside RISE researchers,’ Dr Ihsan explained. ‘Together we marked locations for pressure tanks, septic tanks, wetlands and pipes based on peoples’ use of space. So the RISE team are very excited for the Batua community to finally see all the planning become a reality’.

The co-design between communities and RISE researchers, as well as engineering and planning were jointly supported by the Asian Development Bank and Monash University.

Batua Community Engagement Council (KePoLink) member Ibu Suneti has a renovated toilet and wash area in her home, as part of the upgrades. ‘Before RISE renovated, our toilet was very simple,’ Ms Suneti said. ‘It had zinc walls with a lot of holes, and only cloth curtains. No doors. ‘The biggest difference is that besides being comfortable and clean, we can use the toilet now without worrying that people will see us from holes or behind the curtain,’ she said.

Following the Batua demonstration site, six informal settlements in Makassar taking part in RISE will soon be upgraded, as part of phase 1 of the research program. RISE will measure the impact of the water and sanitation systems on the health of the environment and residents, comparing with six other settlements. Phase 2 will see the latter six settlements upgraded as well.