Why Jakarta is sinking

Published on Feb 19, 2021
The 400-year curse dragging Indonesia's capital into the sea.
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Like many coastal cities around the world, Jakarta is dealing with sea level rise. But Indonesia's biggest city also has a unique problem: Because of restricted water access in the city, the majority of its residents have to extract groundwater to survive. And it's causing the city to sink. Today, Jakarta is the world’s fastest-sinking city.
The problem gets worse every year, but the root of it precedes modern Indonesia by centuries. In the 1600s, when the Dutch landed in Indonesia and built present-day Jakarta, they divided up the city to segregate the population. Eventually, that segregation led to an unequal water piping system that excluded most Indigenous Jakartans, forcing them to find other ways to get water.
To understand how it all ties together, and what’s in store for Jakarta’s future, watch the video above.
Sources and further reading:
If you want to learn more about the development of Jakarta’s urban water supply going all the way back to colonial times, check out Michelle Kooy’s detailed reports:
To understand Jakarta’s colonial history and the segregation that came of it, check out this article from the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art: jhna.org/articles/dutch-batavia-exposing-hierarchy-dutch-colonial-city/
To read about the evolution of the canals the Dutch built in present-day Jakarta and how their deterioration impacted water access and segregation, here’s a study from Dr. Euis Puspita Dewi, who we feature in the video:
To get a broader look at the many other cities sinking in Indonesia, check out this article by Dr. Estelle Chaussard: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0034425712003975
Thanks for watching and let us know what you think in the comments!
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Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out www.vox.com.
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  • Hello! We have translated subtitles available in Bahasa Indonesia. You can access them through the settings icon > Subtitles/CC Thanks for watching, and let me know what other colonial histories you want to see explained next in the comments. Thanks, Christina, Video Producer

    • Mobile legend is Weird games.

    • Mobile legend is the best

    • Could you cover South Korea's current political systems? I'm still amazed and curious as to how the Korean citizens have impacted the ex-president's impeachment.

    • @Na Ma *Free bocil lol*

    • You bucher the Indonesian name. I am disappointed

  • Looks like no one in this country really care about this. They were being way too ignorant and careless. Even though the citizens here knows about this, do you expect them to do something about it? They'll probably just stay at their home, praying to God for mercy and blessings. It's sad to see this historical land is going to sink, soon. If we don't do anything about this, we might risk billions of lives in danger. The other foreign's media pays more attention than this country's media and citizens.

  • Dutch people were A S S H O L E S....thinking themselves superior to indigenous Indonesians!!

  • 25 cm per year?! That is incomprehensible

  • The lopsided pakistan gully spray because stream subcellularly chew along a obsolete state. sharp, wealthy gray

  • i dont like colord people

  • we should take Jakarta, and PUSH IT somewhere else !

  • My city was also built on a swamp but lucky for us also built in the middle of the country so we can't really sink into the ocean. This is heartbreaking. All these people losing everything.

  • 1:57 i thought they were ganna say because they aren't subbed to vox

  • Unrelated to the topic but, I wanna learn how you make these videos. The slight coppyness of the animations looks polished

  • On 02:48, think about this Jakartans, Governor Anis said rain downpour should entered the soil instead of align it to the sea. He's not wrong then?

  • I'm looking for a comment that says: "Raised to the ground?"

  • Maybe Atlantis become real if this keep happening.

  • very informative

  • Make the Dutch government pay to modernize the water distribution to all Jakarta's citizens

  • Can we start blaming these colonizers for ruining countries’ culture, belief, traditions and depleting OUR resources for THEIR own gains!?

  • Vox ini mengada-ada. Jakarta itu tenggelam karena melanggar sunnatullah.

  • At the very beginning , a pagoda style mosque ??? That shape is a Hindu temple , isn’t it ? Okay this video ends in 15 seconds 😂😂😂 with causes and solutions for the drowning Indonesia.

  • 8:55 Orange Dude : "Did someone say *WALLS* ?"

  • another day another take on how bad the impact of colonialism is.. 😁 I love it lol. Thanks vox!!

  • Wonderful Jakarta

  • Maybe instead of focusing your energy on worshipping things you can't even know exist, you should focus your energy on what you can know.

  • people in the future discovering remains of jakarta : "is this Atlantis?"

  • To my fellow indonesians.. Don't live in jakarta if you can.

  • The powerful pink grossly blot because leg substantially prefer concerning a sour tax. magical, difficult skiing

  • It's still boggling me how you mostly blame the Dutch. No one in Indonesia and Jakarta blame Dutch for the bad city planning, it's the peoples and the government problems

  • Thanks for this video coverage and documentary......

  • This documentary puts an emphasis on the responsibility of the Dutch designers and lack of maintenance of the canals thereafter. It is just briefly mentioned that Jakarta's population rose from 1,5 M in 1950 (Indonesia's independence) to about 11 M today, making of the distribution of the piped water a quite different challenge than 70 years ago. And clearly, during this time period, the Indonesian government didn't do much for his people, though its financial resources were important.

    • Yeah, that bothered me as well, big emphasis in the evil conquerors (which of course they always are) and quite little about the insignificant effort of the actual government to fix things. Btw, the news outlets there seldom talk about this problem, I wonder why.

  • That bird shaped island is such a joke proposal.

  • orang indonesia dekil2 ya.. jarang mandi..

  • dutch's fault

  • Tempat tinggal saya di bogor, dan setiap bogor hujan,pasti jakarta yang banjir:'

  • What horrors CAN’T colonialism do? what a horrific legacy.

  • Seems like most of the problems in the world today are one way or another connected to colonialism or western imperialism 🙄

  • Biarin dah biar seluruh dunia tau, nh loh indonesia

  • This case will never end!! coz u know what Indonesian citizen mindset is "what ever the leader is capable or not, as long as they're Muslim it's ok, we support them" smh🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

  • Actually Jakarta has a lot of good things, but in this video what is shot is only bad

    • @Mini M I also don't know because I'm not the president

    • a lot of good things built on sinking ground. How about build pipes for people first instead of skyscrapers and malls

  • Save myanmar

  • Save Myanmar

  • Malu bro

  • udah tau dr smp sekara umur 25 org jakarta pada sadar ya

  • i already know this since jhs thanks vox

  • Really interesting video. Storm ponds help with collecting water as well.

  • jakarta is killing itself....

  • Thank you for this educational video- I did not know that sinking was such a serious problem in Jakarta. Instead of planning to move the capital city to elsewhere, the Indonesian government should seriously think of ways to solve the problem.

  • Good documentary, but you forgot to mention how overpopulated Jakarta is. It's not all Dutch's fault.

    • I agree, it’s not all the dutch fault, but I think it was a take that specifically highlight on how ridiculously BAD and WIDE the impact of colonialism is.

    • It’s kinda self explanatory to me. The dutch made Jakarta its’ center for trades, governance, etc and it attracts + nurture modern civilization until now. In a way, that caused significant reason for people to keep moving in to Jakarta. That’s why the government is planning to move our capital city, or at least to move the whole governing thing on another place, making a concept of washington U.S. and new york city or some sorts. I’d doubt it’d become less populated but lets see🙁 at this point they have to move at an URGENT pace or else time will run out

  • I am from flores indonesia..smart explanations👋👋👋👋

  • Very gud

  • 00:39 Alright, alright, but what has Jakarta been thinking about for so long?

  • what make me sad about this is jakarta lacks the political will to solve this issue. The solution is already there but no one is stepping up.

  • The Dutch need to read that bible

  • Two words: so devastating.

  • The whole world is sinking and you will never be able to explain why scientifically therefore scientists will continue to baffle themselves with numbers for measurements from wind to fire to planets and earthquakes never seeing that numbers never do uphold anything.

  • True all sinking in north,Tanjung Priok,and in kota any building inside land too,in Kota or old city Jakarta

  • When your mom gives you a new shirt and you ignore your old clothes because you don´t need them anymore ,cause you already have found a new, better, and clean one

  • In this kind of situation the people and residents are the one´s who´s suffering and the government and the media are ignoring them as if Jakarta doesn´t exist .

  • News : Jakarta is sinking Indonesian Government: Okay cool we have to move our capital in other places😴 People : 😑

  • The worst thing is, the government doesn't care about this.

  • We are sinking and our government still corrupt. They never hear us, they muted us.

  • Miris saat media luar negeri jauh lebih peduli dengan keadaan Jakarta, sementara media nasional justru memberitakan hal2 yg tidak penting. We are so left behind.

  • British: We exploited half of the world. Spaniards: We plundered South America. Dutch: Hey, I have an achievement too. I looted Indonesia .I’m in the league too.

  • Just as I look at the title, I already know that this is because of plumbing or what we call sumur bor. it’s not just the poor, the rich use them too to reduce the pipe water cost. They use it for anything but bath and consumption. All that talk about moving the capital city, who knows if the people of borneo will totally agree with that. Despite saying bhineka tunggal ika, we are separated in our own races here.

  • 😂😂😂 indo people won't understand English... Therefore, it is hardly to see comments from indo nitizen...




  • Itu yang Sok Sokan bacot katanya bisa ngatasi banjir.. bahkan sampai ada yg berani potong tangan segala... Matanya suruh nonton video ini dulu.. biar ngibulnya lebih di perhalus lagi.

  • That's why Indonesia need a new Capital City, in central Indonesia.

  • And the rich attract themselves towards Bali while the country's capital is ruining. What a shame. Some things will never just change.

  • Its kampung not kampong..

  • why not plant mangrove trees.

  • Alternative title: How Jakarta is trying to copy Venice in an extreme way.

    • maybe Because of the cracked ice burg on antarctica

  • Very sad reality

  • Negara rendang

  • Wkwkw Indonesia

  • So it's worst case scenario.

  • Is any other city sinking as rapidly as Jakarta right now? This is the beginning of a common trend, it deeply saddens and conflicts me as I notice citizens of poor countries suffering at the hands of other people's resources. Society must change

    • Mexico city has a worse lack of water situation, but it's not on the ocean, so it doesn't get flooded as badly.

    • there are many, but unfortunately Jakarta is the fastest.

  • Alternative title: How Jakarta is trying to copy Venice in an extreme way.

    • Your comment makes no sense.

    • child : mom i want to go to venice mom: NO, we have venice at home venice at home:

    • Venice on a budget

    • Venice walmart edition

    • Venice bad ebay knockoff

  • Yes but the crust has been going up and down for the entirety of earth's history. How can we know do something about this problem? - Republicans, probably

  • Jakarta: Sinks Goverment: ok we're move to Borneo

  • That's very Old

  • GK bisa bahasa enggres

  • That's what happens when you say to Dutch to go away.

    • The thing is, the Dutch can handle the sea rise and the sea floods, but not the sinking


  • The Jakarta's Govenor said when flood just wait the water enter the ground

  • :((((

  • Before mask

  • Yet, some of us choose to be ignorant.

  • maybe Because of the cracked ice burg on antarctica

  • "The reason why Indonesia is sinking is because most of the people dont have enough water" Well... problem solved.

  • This video is so good. Wholesome. Indonesian itself could never.

  • Its ok Allah will save them, go pray to him some more

    • Don't just pray to God all the time, do something. Your wish to God will be denied by God himself if we didn't act something

  • I still don't understand the difference in definition between inundation and flood. Because our government sometimes say it inundation instead of a flood.

  • I love seeing Mosques collapse

  • 3:18 - Randeep Hooda

  • Makasih untuk informasinya Thanks for the info!

  • people in the future discovering remains of jakarta : "is this Atlantis?"

  • I wonder if jakarta dispeaper what city will be the capital(surabaya pls)

    • Isn't the capital city gonna move to kalimatan? kalo pindah ke Surabaya kayaknya udah 'rame', 11/12 sama jkt

  • I live in Jakarta, and I just realized that my house also uses pump to pump the water out... And my house is also located on the map of Jakarta sinking.. But Jakarta is a nice place, full of tall buildings, nice parks, despite having a severe pollution and overpopulation..

    • True People like us should use piped water, but sometimes there's no access to it, or the quality of piped water in our neighborhood isn't as good as our groundwater It needs more incentive for all people and the gov to build and use piped water

  • Sok tau lu

  • Last November, in our country Philippines, there's a Hurricane and the water rose 22 meters, our Country Philippines is near Indonesia and the Hurricane moved To Vietnam