The Citarum Program

The Citarum

Creating clean, healthy and productive rivers and communities.

Introducing the collaboration between Monash University, Indonesia partners, and an international consortium of research partners to revitalise the polluted Citarum River.

Millions of people rely on the Citarum River for their water, energy, food and livelihoods. The river sustains livelihoods through agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and ecotourism. Yet, it is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Each day 20,000 tonnes of solid waste, and 280,000 tonnes of industrial wastewater are discharged directly into the river, mostly raw or untreated sewage from domestic households.

Prioritising healthy environments, wellbeing and access to clean water and waste services has never been more important. But solutions are often developed and applied in isolation from each other. An integrative, socio-technical approach for sustainable transformation of the river corridor is needed.

Project team


Funded by

Undertaken within

(Left to right) Professor Diego Ramírez-Lovering collaborates with Environmental Agency Head Dr. Ir. Prima Mayaningtyas, M.Si., Universitas Indonesia’s Head of the Citarum Research Social Team Dr. Reni Suwarso, MPP., Ph.D, and Head of the Citarum Research Engineering Team Dr. Rr. Dwinanti Rika Marthanty, S.T., M.T.

Our vision

Our vision is to create clean, healthy and productive rivers and communities by using new approaches that harness waste, thereby propelling communities towards sustainable growth.

Monash University and Universitas Indonesia are partnering with the Indonesian Government, communities, local NGOs, and the global research community to develop innovations that deliver improved water and waste services, and revitalise the community, economy and environment.

By co-designing new infrastructure, behaviour programs, business models and institutions, our aim is to help communities move away from dumping or discharging waste into the environment, and shift towards circular solutions that recycle, remanufacture and reuse waste.

Our approach

To achieve our vision, we will come together across sectors and disciplines to co-design and test integrative social, technological and economic innovations.

Together, we’ll create new solutions to help restore degraded rivers, revitalise communities and transition to a circular economy. Our aim is to collect rigorous scientific evidence that localised socio-technical innovations can deliver sustainable improvements and growth for rivers and their communities.

We’ll partner with selected villages along a tributary of the Citarum River to demonstrate our community-led, technically rigorous approach addressing pollution, biodiversity loss, community health and poverty in riverine contexts.

Preliminary research

Who we are

Logos of our various partners – listed below

Lead universities: Monash University and University of Indonesia

Research partners: Universitas Padjadjaran, CSIRO, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (eawag) and Research and Development Agency of West Java Province (BP2D)

Government partners: West Java Provincial Government and West Java Environmental Agency

Funding partners: veski and Study Melbourne

Recent news and events

Interdisciplinary Data Perspectives for the Citarum

In this talk, Dr Michaela Prescott, Associate Professor Shanti Sumartojo and Professor Alex Lechner address the challenge of connecting broad-geographic scale open access and big data from an array of sources with detailed ethnographic approaches to understand and support the lived experiences of residents.

Webinar: Revitalising the Citarum River and its Communities

On 5 October 2022, Monash University and West Java’s Research and Development Agency hosted a webinar presenting evidence from research undertaken in the Citarum basin spanning 2021 – 2022, and presented a new vision for river and community transformation through integrated water and wastewater solutions.

Community-led solutions key to a revitalised Citarum River

In 2021, the Victorian Government awarded funding to create a living lab along the Citarum River, one of the world’s most polluted waterways. Because of the pandemic, the Monash team has been forced to work remotely until last month when the Monash team visited the river-side villages for the first time in over two years.

Revitalising a River, Revitalising Communities

Changing lives through the Citarum Living Lab: Click here to download the project prospectus.

Victorian Government investment lays groundwork for living lab to transform Citarum River

The Victorian Government has awarded The Citarum Program a grant to establish a ‘living lab’ to address pollution in the Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia. The grant is provided through the Study Melbourne Research Partnerships program, delivered through veski.

Citarum Program features at International River Symposium

Monash researchers and the Citarum program team, along with our partners Universitas Indonesia, Universitas Padjadjaran, West Java Environmental Agency and R&D Agency, recently participated in the hybrid 24th International River Symposium in Brisbane.

Cleaning up Indonesia’s Citarum River, one of the world’s most polluted waterways

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’s also one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

Monash University and West Java Government partner to revitalise polluted Citarum River

Monash University and the Provincial Government of West Java, Indonesia, today signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate on developing new solutions to restore the Citarum River – one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

First informal settlement receives RISE water and sanitation upgrades in Indonesia

Major program milestone reached as demonstration site officially opens.

Monash visit to Bandung, West Java

Major program milestone reached as demonstration site officially opens.

Graduate research opportunities

CARP (Citarum Action Research Program)

The project aims to design, deliver and monitor a socio-technical intervention in a strategic location in the upper river catchment of the Citarum River. We aim to develop evidence through a rigorous program of research in ecological health, well-being and community resilience to climate change.

More information