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Batua proud first informal settlement to showcase RISE water and sanitation upgrades

By 8am on Saturday the sun was already beating down over Makassar, and the humidity had settled in for the day. But that didn’t stop a group of young Batua children from practising their traditional dance for the upcoming ceremony.

An hour later, drums were beating as Batua residents welcomed special guests to their neighbourhood, including the Mayor of Makassar, Dr M Iqbal Samad Suhaeb SE., MT, Rector of Hasanuddin University, Professor Dwia Aries Tina Pulubuhu, Asian Development Bank Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Mr Bambang Susantono and the Australian Consul-General to Makassar, Mr Richard Matthews.

Opening remarks from the RISE Indonesia team and Monash University talked about the months of collaboration with the Batua community that led to the design of the water and sanitation upgrades, and ultimately its construction. Partner organisations, Makassar Government and Australian Government representatives all expressed their delight at seeing the planned infrastructure finally become a reality.

A traditional dance from a group of young boys lifted the mood even higher, bringing a youthful spirit to the formalities.

And finally, a cut ribbon, claps and cheering, and Batua was officially opened as the very first neighbourhood to be upgraded with RISE’s sustainable water and sanitation infrastructure.

Leading guests on a tour of the infrastructure, RISE Makassar Build Team Leader Dr Ihsan Latief pointed out septic tanks and wetlands.

‘What you see here today is the direct result of men, women, youth and children from Batua having come together to design the infrastructure alongside RISE researchers,’ Dr Ihsan explained. ‘So, we are very excited for the community to finally see all the planning become a reality’.

Batua tour

Dr Ihsan Latief leads guests on a tour of the water-sensitive technologies.

Batua showcases RISE’s water-sensitive technologies in action: infrastructure like wetlands, biofiltration gardens, stormwater harvesting and local sanitation systems based on ‘smart’ new septic tanks are integrated into buildings and landscapes.

Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering from Monash University’s Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, said the nature-based solutions complement traditional centralised water systems.

‘These are very simple systems based on sand and gravel media, as well as plants to clean water. We have worked with the Batua community to build these systems themselves, so that they feel a sense of ownership,’ Professor Ramirez-Lovering said.

Professor Tony Wong, Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC) – the knowledge partner in design and supervision for the infrastructure – said it was about bringing innovative approaches to urban water management to informal settlements.

‘By introducing water-sensitive technologies, we aim to deliver transformative change in informal settlements, and demonstrating the technologies here in Batua is the start of our journey,’ Professor Wong said.

RISE ‘nature-based solutions’ mimic the earth’s natural systems to clean water.

The co-design between communities and RISE researchers, as well as engineering and planning were jointly supported by the Asian Development Bank and Monash University.

Ibu Suneti is a member of Batua’s Community Engagement Council, and has been instrumental in representing her community’s needs since planning began two years ago. For her, it was an emotional day.

She spoke with Bambang Susantono from the Asian Development Bank, a joint funder of the community design, planning and engineering, about the life-changing impacts for herself and her community. ‘Before RISE renovated my home, our toilet was very simple,’ she said. ‘It had zinc walls with a lot of holes, and only cloth curtains. No doors.

'The biggest difference is that besides being comfortable and clean, we can use the toilet now without worrying that people will see us from holes or behind the curtain,' she said.

As a demonstration site, Batua is piloting nature-based solutions for RISE to learn how this new type of infrastructure functions in informal settlements contexts.

Through this proof of concept at Batua, and future work, RISE hopes to influence and attract future investments into these types of holistic, alternative and transformative sanitation solutions.