Indonesian President Acknowledged Rain Catchment Areas Need Repairing as Response to Flood in Kalimantan

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said that the flood which hit Sintang Regency, West Kalimantan Province was caused by damaged rain catchment area (watershed). The destruction of the rain catchment area then caused the Kapuas River to overflow.

This was conveyed by the President in his statement after inaugurating the Serang-Panimbang Toll Road section 1 at the Rangkasbitung Toll Gate, Lebak Regency, Banten Province, Tuesday (16/11/2021). 

"So the Kapuas is overflowing because the rain catchment area is damaged, that's what we want to fix," he said.

To repair the rain catchment area, Jokowi stated that the government will prepare seedbeds (nurseries) accompanied by reforestation, both in the upstream areas and in the rain catchment areas themselves.

President Jokowi gave a statement after inaugurating the Serang-Panimbang toll road section I. (Photo: BPMI Setpres/Muchlis Jr)
President Jokowi gave a statement after inaugurating the Serang-Panimbang toll road section I. (Photo: BPMI Setpres/Muchlis Jr)

“The catchment area must be repaired because the damage is there. Second, the rainfall is more extreme than usual," he added. 

Sintang Regency has been flooded since October. The President has ordered the Ministry of Public Works & Housing and the Ministry of Environment & Forestry to study the initial causes and prepare the necessary steps to overcome the floods in Sintang.

Previously, an area of 969,000 hectares which functions as the watersheds or catchment area in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, is in critical condition and damaged. This is considered to be one of the factors that caused the widespread flooding in the province, especially Sintang Regency, which started in October, 2021. 

Minister of Public Works & Housing, Basuki Hadimuljono said that his agency will soon begin the follow up steps as ordered by the president.

"Regarding land rehabilitation as conveyed by the President, in the future we need to really implement the Regional Spatial Plan (RTRW) as well as carry out strict law enforcement for various possible spatial planning violations, including open space for water," said Basuki.

Meanwhile, Minister of Environment & Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar mentioned several factors that cause the Sintang flood. She stated that heavy rainfalls from October, which reached up to 294 millimeters, had discharged 15,877 cubic meters per second of water.

This amount exceeds the river's capacity to catch rainwater, which is only 12,279.80 cubic meters per second. As a result, an overflow of massive water discharge was unavoidable 

"In the future, we need to plan usage patterns that are more environmentally friendly and use local wisdom that is safer from flooding, such as houses on stilts," said Siti.