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Floods in Jakarta: when the extreme reveals daily structural constraints and mismanagement

Pauline Texier (UMR 8586 Prodig, UFR GHSS, Université Paris 7 – Denis Diderot, Montréal, 2ème étage, Dalle des Olympiades, Paris, France)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 20 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the root causes of disaster vulnerability in Jakarta, to highlight the strategies and implications of official policies, and to consider alternatives for vulnerability mitigation. The February 2007 floods which struck Jakarta emphasized the extreme vulnerability of informal poor communities and the inefficiency of the disaster management policy set up by the Indonesian government.


Detailed field investigations were undertaken before, during and after the February 2007 flood event in several informal districts of Jakarta to collect secondary data and conduct interviews with the population and some stakeholders of the disaster management scene.


Human factors are dominant in explaining the magnitude of the 2007 flooding episode. Urbanization is partially responsible for the extent of the flooding by waterproofing the soils. Yet floods do not strike the inhabitants of formal and informal settlements in the same way. People from the poor illegal areas are the most affected. Their behaviour and coping strategies during the crisis are not due to a low perception of risk, but rather to some daily and non‐hazard‐related constraints which are not taken into account by the government.

Practical implications

To prevent increasing vulnerability among these communities, it is essential to refocus disaster management strategies on a daily pattern and to integrate them within a global development framework, to de‐marginalize them in terms of access to resources (public services, economic values), and to favoir empowerment.


It is imperative to focus on poverty reduction and to develop economic projects aimed at treating the causes of vulnerability.



Texier, P. (2008), "Floods in Jakarta: when the extreme reveals daily structural constraints and mismanagement", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 358-372.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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