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Development starts in the alleyways: governments take up local ownership model

13 June 2022

Residents of RISE’s participating informal settlements tell of times only a few years ago when storms and rising floodwaters would block access in and out of their neighbourhood. ‘Before, the road conditions made it hard to access resources from outside. 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,’ said one resident. ‘It was very hard for building materials to enter the neighbourhood’, said another.

While these experiences highlight the everyday hardships that flooding brings, it also speaks to the will and drive of hard-working residents offering and seeking ways to build productive lives for themselves and their community.

This drive resonates with the Mayor of Makassar City, the progress-minded Mohammad Ramdhan "Danny" Pomanto, who himself believes that it’s in these alleyways, the lorong, that the engine room of development starts.

In May, Mayor Pomanto, along with the Australian Consul-General in Makassar, Director of the Indonesia Australia Partnership for Infrastructure facility, and representatives from the Indonesian government, visited RISE’s demonstration site, Batua. They got to see first-hand how relatively simple but improved infrastructure is catalysing a different future – and it’s being driven by the community.

Residents of Batua monitor a pressure sewer to ensure it is properly pumping wastewater away from household toilets.

The pride of place is palpable – from patterned coloured tiles on elevated pathways which were designed and voted on by the community, to leading the monitoring of new sewerage systems. Visiting the community in 2020, Asian Development Bank Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Bambang Susantono, said he was heartened to see how the community has contributed knowledge to the project and taken ownership in the process.

Better infrastructure designed by the community has already unlocked new economic and social opportunities. ‘Now the veggies and fish carts can enter our neighbourhood. Even the cooking pot seller can come straight to our door’, said a resident. ‘We are also better connected to our relatives and friends who live outside Batua. Now they come here more often,’ said another.

Recognises these life-changing impacts, the City of Makassar is prioritising the expansion of this community-driven approach. A special Project Management Unit in the City has been set up to provide direct support to RISE’s revitalisation program. Mayor Pomanto is also encouraging engagement with the South Sulawesi government so that funds can be allocated to expand the water-sensitive revitalisation approach to other parts of the province.

Infrastructure design, and the resulting upward mobility of residents, represents a new model of local ownership – a model that governments are delivering themselves. The cascade of impact has started in the alleyways of Batua, and is already rippling out into the city and beyond.

The RISE approach is a nature-based, climate-adaptive and -resilient way to improve living conditions and the environment -
designed for informal settlement communities, by communities.