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Behind the coloured squares: incorporating identity into infrastructure

Residents of Batua settlement have a sinking feeling when the wet season approaches each year. They know that footpaths will get flooded from heavy rain, making access in and out of their neighbourhood difficult, stretching into to the dry season too.

In the past, resourcefulness has brought the multi-ethnic community together – across Makassarese, Bugineese, Timor, and Torajan groups – each household donating  about 150,000Rp to build communal bamboo paths and rafts, to navigate the submerged paths over the difficult months.

Now, paved roads in Batua sit elevated above RISE’s pipe networks, septic tanks and pressure tanks, making the road surface easier to travel on. With the completion of RISE’s green infrastructure just weeks away, residents have already started reaping the benefits.

With new roads installed, four Batua women stepped forward to share their ideas for how they could be designed, offering to paint the roads themselves. Drawing vibrant, colourful square patterns, the women shared designs that represent their identity and how they feel about their community.

Ibu Salma

‘Before, the road conditions made it hard to access resources from outside the neighbourhood. I would have to carry a gallon of water from the canal road to my house. And every day I would also help carry my husband’s equipment to the canal road.

‘Now the veggies and fish carts can enter our neighbourhood. Even the cooking pot seller can now come straight to our door!

‘[For the paving] I drew patterns that just came to my mind. I drew them with my little son’.

Ibu Kristin

‘Before the RISE program, it was very hard to live in this community, especially regarding water and access issues. It was also very hard for building materials to enter the neighbourhood.

‘But now, we feel happy and things are more convenient.

‘Pink is my favorite color, because I'm a woman, so that’s why I used it in my designs. The pattern is like a mat pattern, like our traditional fabric batik’.

Ibu Suneti

‘For daily needs like vegetables and fish, we had to go to the market every day to be able to cook for our family. But now we can save time because the seller can come to our neighbourhood instead.

‘We are also now better connected to our relatives and friends who live outside Batua. Now they come here more often.

‘I chose blue and green for my designs because the colors are calming. I also chose them because RISE is going to plant more greenery, that's why I drew the flower pattern too’.

Ibu Maria

‘Now no more people will be falling down from the bamboo path.

‘I just make what I like’.

The local RISE team incorporated the women’s patterns into the design plans and shared them with Batua’s Community Engagement Council, for the community to make the final decision on the design.