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Indonesia Defense University pioneers sustainable housing solutions in flood-prone areas

Tom Abke

Sustainable housing is a priority for the Indonesian government, including its defense establishment. With millions of homes at risk from natural disasters in the world’s fourth most-populous country, the Indonesia Defense University, known as Unhan RI, launched an initiative to build floating and stilt houses in a fishing village in northern Jakarta. The project promises to be a model for sustainable housing, according to the Indonesian Defense Ministry, or Kemhan.

Nearly 200 people were killed and 1 million dwellings destroyed by flooding in Indonesia in 2022, the United States-based Columbia University reported. Floating houses and those built on stilts are more resilient to floods and rising waters, according to Kemhan.

Built on platforms, floating houses are anchored but rise and fall with the water level, making them suitable for areas prone to flooding or seasonal water level changes. Stilt houses are built on raised platforms or pillars and are traditional in Jakarta and other flood-prone areas of the Indonesian archipelago.

Unhan RI personnel built a 12-unit, floating housing complex to accommodate 51 residents and a six-unit complex for 21 others in ​Pluit Village in the Penjaringan subdistrict. In addition, a park and sports facility are being built for the fishing community, with plans for eight floating pedestrian bridges and two floating vehicle bridges.

The new housing will help the villagers avoid the effects of flooding and provide them with access to clean water, helping them preserve their lifestyle and livelihood, Kemhan reported.

Indonesia has more than 12 million fisherfolk and is the world’s second-largest fisheries producer. In recent years, the sector has contributed more than $27 billion annually to the nation’s gross domestic product, according to Jakarta-based investment fund AC Ventures.

Unhan RI also built off-grid electricity generation, seawater desalination and wastewater treatment facilities to serve the housing development.

“This program is a tangible embodiment of Unhan RI’s commitment in making a real contribution to the community through planned and structured service activities,” Kemhan said in a news release. “With this effort, it is hoped that the condition of the fishing village in Pluit Village will improve and the people living in the area will become more prosperous.”

The initiative aligns with Indonesian Defense Minister and President-elect Prabowo Subianto’s goals for Unhan RI’s community service programs, Kemhan stated.

The government’s 2024 budget prioritizes housing solutions, especially for low-income communities, The Jakarta Post newspaper reported. A $1.1 billion fund to finance affordable homes is increasing by more than $120 million.

Tom Abke is a FORUM correspondent reporting from Singapore.

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