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Indonesia Healthy Rivers Challenge 2020: An overview of Phase I

Indonesia Healthy Rivers Challenge 2020

What the Challenge is about

Indonesia Healthy Rivers Challenge 2020 is a capacity-building program by The Water Agency that challenges and inspires Indonesia’s Young River Leaders to contribute their own original ideas and solutions towards the sustainable development of river basins.

In this first edition, the Challenge takes place in the Welang River, East Java, where it suffers from a number of water-related problems, many of these problems are caused by man-made disturbances in the river catchment area.

During the field visit and the vast explanation by East Java Provincial Water Resources Agency, both the experts and participants learned and saw first-hand the problems in the Welang River: flooding, land-use change, unprocessed waste, river pollution, heavy sedimentation in certain parts of the river, local people’s habit, poor law enforcement and economic pressure.

Thirty carefully selected and hand-picked university students and young professionals across Indonesia from different backgrounds and expertise are divided into five groups, each with a certain balance to complete each other’s speciality.

Their task: to work in teams on assignments and to create various solutions toward the problems in the Welang River. Each team must offer and include the law-culture-education aspects into their solutions while creating a balance within the socio-economic aspects. The existing hydraulic infrastructures must be taken into account before designing the new ones. With the infrastructures in place, so must the conservation-environmental aspects which are projected through good spatial planning.

The participants have full creativity in designing a set of out-of-the-box solutions with their teammates, supervised and mentored by the experts from both national and international institutions.

In their set of solutions, each team should articulate their original perspective on how flooding can be reduced through a mix of solutions, interventions and approaches while balancing the interests of/impacts on the built, social, natural and economic environment. The final proposals are judged based on originality, feasibility and impact. 


Introducing: our program partners

We understand the importance of sustainable and integrated water resources management comes from different aspects and expertise, that is why we are proud to introduce our partners who have been very supportive and enthusiastic during the Challenge.

The group of experts consist of Witteveen+Bos, Royal HaskoningDHV, Rebel, Danone-AQUA, Royal IHC, IDN Liveable Cities, Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN), PERUM Jasa Tirta 1, Alliance for Water Stewardship Indonesia (AWS Indonesia), Drainblock, HZ University (Living Lab) and Brawijaya University.


Phase I of Indonesia Healthy Rivers Challenge 2020: how it went

The First Phase was held on 9-13th November 2020 in Pasuruan. The Water Agency, East Java Provincial Water Resources Agency and the Netherlands’ RVO warmly welcomed all participants and experts to the Challenge location.


Day 1

Opening from both East Java Provincial Water Resources Agency (by Mr. M. Abduh Mattalitti, represented by Mr. Gugun Supriyanggoseto) and the Netherlands’ RVO (by Mr. Rien Dam) both emphasized on the out-of-the-box solutions and innovative approaches to the flooding problem in the Welang River. The day continued with full classroom activity where the participants learned from the experts about the water resources management from different aspects and expertise. These were important for the participants as they were challenged to approach the problems through different lenses and to determine which solutions were potential to be applied in the Welang River.

Day 2

The second day started early with a visit to the Welang River, where we all got on boats and explored the river, from the mid-stream to the downstream where it met with the sea. Along the river, the participants were challenged to map out the problems and where they laid. They learned first-hand about the river on the spot, saw with their own eyes how the condition in the Welang River was, had dialogues with the local stakeholders to learn about the locals’ habit and what had been done in that area. It was a hot day, but each team was energized during the exploration and very excited! More, they learned about how the locals utilized the sediment from the river to produce brick, which was then sold to nearby villages as a construction material.

Day 3

After the participants explored the Welang River, they now had a better picture and understanding of the mix of problems in the river. The challenge continued with another classroom activity session and presentation from the experts before they visited Purwodadi Botanical Garden. In the Botanical Garden, they learned how AWLR (Automatic Water Level Recorder) worked and saw the upstream of the Welang River. From Purwodadi, they went to visit PERUM Jasa Tirta 1 where we were all welcomed with such hospitality by Mr. Samsul Hidayat Setiabudi and Mrs. Astria Nugrahany. The visit got all participants charged as they had the opportunity to see the new Command Center that monitored all the rivers under the management of PERUM Jasa Tirta 1. The Command Center was so cool that some photo sessions were a must!

Day 4

With new insights and understanding, the learning session continued with other expertise inputs. On that day, the participants were heavily engaged in their maps, making signs and marks here and there to pinpoint all the problems and analyzing the solutions with the help and inputs from Mrs. Annisak Laila and Mr. Fauzy Nasruddin from East Java Provincial Water Resources Agency. We were also visited by Mr. Apri and his team from Forum Komunikasi Kabupaten Pasuruan Sehat (FKKPS) where they gave insights about the importance of living in harmony with the environment. To help the participants understood the importance of every stakeholder in river management, we designed a River Stakeholder Game for them to have fun while learning. The heated arguments, the constructive inputs and the spirit to fight for their role were the essence of the game: to challenge them in finding a win-win solution through negotiations with every stakeholder.

Day 5

The final day of Phase I. We expected them to deliver their findings and preliminary solutions in tackling the problems in the Welang River after four days of fact findings and learning. Each team was given 15 minutes to present, and they all did tremendously well and presented their work in a very engaging way for us all to remember. Day 5 concluded the end of Phase I and we are officially moving to Phase II of the Challenge.

We thank the East Java Provincial Water Resources Agency for their continuous support and warm hospitality in this program, our partners that had made the time to be with the participants and to provide them with different expertise and all of our participants that had proven themselves to be the promising Young River Leaders.

We will see you all again in Phase II (held from mid-November 2020 to late January 2021) and Phase III (in February 2021)!