Indonesia: Developing a Coastal Inundation Impact-based Service

On 17 January 2013, water flooded into several Jakarta neighbourhoods, claiming over a dozen lives and causing the evacuation of 18 000 people.

The papers featured pictures of the (former) President paddling in the garden of his residence, his trousers rolled up to his knees.

Jakarta has more than 10 million people living in a coastal area that is vulnerable to rising sea levels. The area surrounding the city affords some protection through wetlands, woods and other green spaces, but in recent years, this has been eroded by new housing complexes and malls. The growing of mangroves to support Jakarta fisheries is providing some coastal protection against typhoons and storm-reduced erosion. Flood and pollution controls have also helped, but subsidence continues at pace, against a backdrop of rising sea levels and more frequent high impact weather events.

In view of the situation, the Agency for Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics, Indonesia (BMKG) and its partners asked the WMO Coastal Inundation Forecasting Demonstration Project (CIFDP) for assistance in developing a multi-disciplinary partnership for an integrated coastal inundation warning service. The aim would be to consolidate and build on the partners’ existing data, science, expertise and services to deliver a single, fully-coupled flood forecasting system that would generate improved impact-based flood information. The people of Jakarta and Semarang would be better prepared for the threat of flooding if such information could complement the existing flood warnings and advice.

In Indonesia, flooding can come from a number of sources: tides, large sea swells, large waves, and from the land as a result of heavy rain and tidal locking. After events such as the distant Typhoon Peipah in 2007 that induced a storm surge of 38 cm in Jakarta that caused widespread damage, 50 fatalities and displaced 300,000 people, storm surges induced by distant tropical storms were added to the flood risks.

The emerging plan

In light of the request, WMO established a CIFDP project team in Indonesia that agreed with BMKG and its partners on a sustainable plan to improve their operational forecasts and warnings capability. These objectives will be achieved through partnerships, robust science and observations, coordination and the delivery of services through existing national agencies. The plan addresses all the flood types that threaten Indonesia.

Work has already begun on the construction of an operational service building for the Flood Early Warning System for Jakarta (JFEWS). The plan requires significant contributions from partner agencies in Indonesia.

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