Water and Development Research in Jakarta

This research project analyzed socio-cultural and socio-economic dimensions of changing patterns of water governance in the city of Jakarta, Indonesia, focusing on two issues:

1) Water governance in the colonial city: Archival research into the hydraulic history of Jakarta’s water supply system examined the colonial origins of Jakarta’s water supply systems. Particular emphasis was placed on the socio-cultural and socio-economic relations underlying the early differentiation of service standards between race and class, and historical parallels to current policies of decentralization and liberalization of public service provision. Documenting the growth of the network from its colonial origins to the present, we demonstrated that inequitable access was ‘hard-wired’ into the network from its origins, and is not a recent phenomenon.

2) Water governance in the contemporary city: Field research in Jakarta took place between 2004 and 2005, focusing on how relations between the region’s progressive socio-economic restructuring (1950’s-2003), changing political regimes, and socio-cultural construction of an ‘urban Indonesian’ identity, influence changing patterns of urban water governance. In particular, emphasis was placed on the involvement of private sector actors (formal and informal) in water supply. We  analysed the performance of the private sector, focusing on access (connection rates, pricing) and accountability (transparency, participatory mechanisms).


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada ~ $120,000
(awarded 2003)