Indonesia is on drought alert, with concerns of significant water supply disruptions throughout Greater Jakarta. The Cisadane River in the Tangerang municipality is flowing at reduced rates after rain has failed to materialise in recent months. Around 100,000 people are facing a food crisis in Eastern Indonesia as a result of the drought.
The Indonesian Red Cross said it will start distributing clean water to drought-ridden areas across Java. In response to the drought, the government has said it plans to commence a cloud-seeding campaign in October. In Bali, water trucks have been used to supply clean water to villages. Lombok Island is also suffering from drought, with a reported 15,000 families in Lombok lacking clean water. The government has already distributed around 600,000 litres of water to 56,000 people on Lombok. In all, the government is said to be spending at least 1.7 trillion rupiah ($197 million) to cope with the impact of the droughts. This money is being used to supply rice to poor families and to compensate farmers for failed harvests. Hundreds of hectares of rice in the Nasal District, Kaur Regency and Bengkulu Province, were harvested early due to a lack of water supply.
At least six of the 16 dams in Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi are drying up and almost 100,000 people, spread across 21 districts and cities, are facing serious food shortages due to the drought. The government is providing water pumps, fertilisers and crop seeds to counter the drought and has plans to boost irrigation infrastructure.
Droughts are not new for Indonesia. Central Java is said to have faced drought more than 300 times in the past 20 years; West Java, 278 times and East Java, 156 times.
Hamong Santoso, from the People’s Coalition for the Right to Water, is quoted in the Jakarta Post as saying that the government has not prioritised improvements to water resource management and services.
He said at least ten ministries are responsible for water resource management, incorporating the supply, protection and delivery of water, as well as water distribution.
While the government appears to be dealing swiftly with the droughts, further reforms of the government structure to try to streamline water and food security into one agency, should be examined by the government.
FDI Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme