Urbanization and Slums

Apr 7th, 2010, in News, by

Movement of village dwellers to cities like Jakarta to be welcomed say urban planners.

Nasir Tamara of the International Indonesian Scholars' Association (Ikatan Ilmuwan Indonesia Internasional (I4)) claims that within the next decade 80% of Indonesian rural dwellers will move into cities and towns.

Above all this will happen on Java. The causes are globalisation, and the lure of malls, schools, and other facilities which are much better in cities.

The government's approach to the issue, that of encouraging people to stay in their villages, or "kembali ke desa" ('go back to the village') if they have already moved to cities, is unlikely to succeed, he says, because the development and employment projects that attract migrants are centred in towns, and additionally that the nature of development in Indonesia tends to cause people to become consumerist, which helps to impoverish them and quicken the movement into cities. antara

Meanwhile internationally the "New Urbanist" movement of architects and city planners suggests that what is usually feared in Indonesia is to be welcomed, that mass third world urbanisation is not an environmental and human catastrophe, but instead improves the lives of people and has less impact on the environment than the alternatives.


Jakarta slum, rear end view

"New urbanism" was inspired by a 2003 UN-Habitat report, "The Challenge of Slums", which said:

Cities are so much more successful in promoting new forms of income generation, and it is so much cheaper to provide services in urban areas, that some experts have actually suggested that the only realistic poverty reduction strategy is to get as many people as possible to move to the city.

One of the leaders of New Urbanism, US architect Peter Calthorpe, says of the environmental issue:

The city is the most environmentally benign form of human settlement. Each city dweller consumes less land, less energy, less water, and produces less pollution than his counterpart in settlements of lower densities.

When people are spread out in rural areas, it is much more expensive and difficult to deliver services and create jobs for them, he says, while their environmental impact is worse than the average city-dweller. prospectmagazine.co.uk


6 Comments on “Urbanization and Slums”

  1. avatar Ross says:

    Interesting topic, Patung, and must agree with the guy who say they won’t leave the Shining City on the Ciliwung! More will come, because, like London, it’s the capital, where work can be found, and more fun is thought to be had.

    Fuzzy Bow-Wow could always try to build Welwyn Garden City equivalents, and we can see from Tangerang’s Karawaci that there is scope for this, but here…hard to say.

    It might be that the rising middle-class will seek to bale out and leave the core to the poor. A shame, and again we have all these outrageously priced high flats in the city centre, but are they not heavily under-occupied, precisely due to the inflated rents demanded?
    We took a look at one tiny cupboard of an apartment, over 2 million a month, when a decent little house in a safe enough West jakarta area is under that.
    Just a few random thoughts, before old ‘Dry-as-Dust’ Brand gets in on it, as he appears to think he knows everything about everything!

  2. avatar deta says:

    It’s a kind of weird – but sensible – approach to solve environmental problems. Welcoming people to move to the city because it’s cheaper and more efficient than managing people who live in scattered areas? Taking the pessimistic side, I have a doubt if it can be a solution for the problem of urban-rural living in Indonesia. At least not in this short period of time.

    Welcoming people in big cities without first facilitating the infrastructures, creating job opportunities, excellent city planning, and good environmental management to maintain the environment both in the urban areas as the destination and the rural areas left by the people, are just like welcoming disaster to the country. How can the human resources be ready for this big challenge while they can barely manage the simpler rubbish and flood problems?

    Fuzzy bow-wow….. ya, he needs to use more fuzzy logic in doing his job.

  3. avatar David says:

    Welcoming people in big cities without first facilitating the infrastructures, creating job opportunities, excellent city planning, and good environmental management to maintain the environment both in the urban areas as the destination and the rural areas left by the people, are just like welcoming disaster to the country. How can the human resources be ready for this big challenge while they can barely manage the simpler rubbish and flood problems?

    Yes good points. The article I linked to suggests this to meet some of your reservations, it’s actually talking about ‘squatter cities’ like in Bombay, India:

    The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.

  4. avatar ET says:

    The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.

    It very much depends on individuals and natural born leaders like in the slums of Mumbay, which got a lot of attention after the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. But it could also turn out the other way when criminal gangs take over and turn parts of the cities into ghettos where nobody goes in or out without their permission, like the favelas of Brazil.

  5. avatar deta says:

    The article I linked to suggests this to meet some of your reservations, it’s actually talking about ’squatter cities’ like in Bombay, India

    I see…. Instead of doing slum clearance, they do slum up-grading.

    But it could also turn out the other way when criminal gangs take over and turn parts of the cities into ghettos where nobody goes in or out without their permission, like the favelas of Brazil.

    Even with the possibility of that worst case scenario people will still likely to take the risk of living in slum area as there is a trade off between poor living quality and close proximity to jobs and other supply of urban service. So it’s inevitable even in Indonesia, or Jakarta, to be precise.

  6. avatar Winmar says:

    Welcoming people in big cities without first facilitating the infrastructures, creating job opportunities, excellent city planning, and good environmental management to maintain the environment both in the urban areas as the destination and the rural areas left by the people, are just like welcoming disaster to the country.

    Jakarta appears to have none of the things you mentioned, deta, so disaster awaits! People have been moving from villages to Jakarta to find work for a long time, and it’s increasingly happening in Bandung as well (and probably elsewhere).

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