Riverfront Development and Sustainable Development: Part #2

When we talk about riverfront development, does back or front matter? In developed country either river in the back or front i.e. whether the river is in our front yard or back yard, it does not matter. Here are some examples:

River front Project. Source of picture is here.

Or alternately river in the backyard. Source of picture is here.

But … for developing countries, it does very much matter.

Here are some examples:

River in the frontyard of home, in Karangwaru Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Or in Jakarta, Indonesia:

All pictures are nice. But, when the river is in the backyard, what happens?

This is a picture of a river in Jakarta, when the river is in the backyard. Citizens think the river is a long garbage disposal site.

And, another example:

Do you see the difference, when river in the frontyard and in the backyard?

To be continued here.

Riverfront Development and Sustainable Development: Part #1

Part #1 Riverfront Development – SUD – SC and SD

If we talk about sustainable city, sustainable urban development, and sustainable development, in my opinion their correlation can be depicted as shown in figure below.

Sustainable development (SD) is a broad concept that combines two entities of sustainability and development, and  sustainable urban development (SUD) is a sub-system of sustainable development. Sustainable urban development is executed towards sustainable city (SC). The above case shows that river front development can also contribute to sustainable urban development and sustainable city.

Take a look at these definitions:

Sustainable development is defined as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED, 1987).

A sustainable City possesses these characteristics: (a) affordable housing supporting pride and self-reliance, (b) diversified economic development, (c) life-long learning, (d) a self-governing, self-organizing community, and (e) stewardship of the environment.


To be continued here.

Urban Environmentalism – Part #4

While urban development goes on, the overland flow is controlled:

Urban development needs sacrifice of urban environment. For instance, when an area of previously rain forest being converted to a building with outdoor parking lots. From the hydrological viewpoint, the runoff coefficient will be changed from forest like this:

According to some references, if R=100%, E (depending on many climatological factors), says, 30%, I (depending on soil and surface types) 50%, the residual residual runoff is about 20-25%. We noticed that small surface runoff, thus no change to flood.

Now, what happened if the landscape is changed?, like this.


Ground surface has changed from natural surface to artificial surface like concrete, asphalt surface etc. Then, infiltration will reduce significantly and surface runoff will practically increase. Here is urban flooding problem started.

The use of interlocking paver that allows surface runoff to infiltrate will significantly reduce the surface runoff itself, and therefore reducing probability of flooding. Along with other means such as bio-retention, planter box and so on, the surface runoff can be controlled to some extent.


Urban Environmentalism – Part #3

Urban development is normally commenced by a city plan and land use plan, which obviously undergoes in an environment entity. In this case, urban development undertakes on land, and therefore any physical development would generate disturbances to ecological integrity in that area. Subscribing the analogy of economic development and environmental protection dilemma, in a mesoscale, the dilemma can also be brought to confront the urban development vis-à-vis environmental protection. The reconciliation, in this case, can be done by letting urban development undergo while keeping the ecological function intact, even though there are physical disturbances on environment. Ecological modernization at mesoscale level is recognized in this study as urban environmentalism. We define urban environmentalism as a process to reconcile urban physical development and ecological function at optimum state towards sustainable development.

Urban environmentalism attempts to negotiate or reconcile the physical development and environmental protection to certain extent, by minimizing or offsetting environmental damage due to physical development. Here are few examples of the implementation of urban environmentalism in practices.

Disconnected Habitat:

When the integrity of a habitat must be separated and disconnected by man-made structure such as road, railway and so on, or in other case but similar, dam construction that separates upper watershed and lower watershed of a river, an ecological link e.g. eco-bridge or eco-tunnel, or fish ladder for the case of dam are the way how we reconciled the environmental function and development.

Here are few of good examples on reconciling the need of economic growth and environmental conservation.

Eco-link of Singapore:

Source of picture is here.

The Eco-Link is a bridge for wildlife to cross from the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. When the Bukit Timah Expressway KE splits the previously continuous nature reserves, there was concern on habitat disconnection of the wildlife in the area. The bridge allows wildlife to expand their habitat, mating and genetic pool, and their survival chances. The project is a collaboration between nature groups, tertiary institutions and government agencies, the National Parks Board and the Land Transport Authority with the express purpose of conservation.


Urban Environmentalism – Part #2

Take a look at the factors influencing economic growth of a country, which are (1) Government/private sector/individual expenditures (2) exportation (3) new investment. All the factors would probably involve natural resources. Again, it proves the notion that economics and environment are two sides in a same coin. It is therefore, the development in a country will involve economic, environmental, and social aspects. It would be impossible if developing economics ignoring the development of people. These three aspects are depicted appropriately in sustainable development.

Source of Figure is here

Back to strong relation between economics and the environment. Because of their strong bond, economy and environment most of the time go to different direction, and we could not easily negotiate them or optimize them towards desirable state, as depicted below.

The above dilemma leads to a generic question on what is the optimum state (desirable to one’s goal). The answer is difficult, depending on the policies of a country. If a country focus on economic growth, then the environmental protection would not have a significant attention and vice versa. There are many school of thoughts to look at this dilemma, as depicted in below picture.

If we dichotomize the view on human-being on one hand and environment on the other hand, there are five views from anthropocentric view – human centered view to moral/aesthetic nature – nature centered view. A safe standing point is always in the middle, which is global environmental citizenship, where nature can be utilized to certain extent that ensures sustainability, to develop human being. Now, back to you, what is your standpoint?

That is at macro level, which is hard to compromise. How about at micro level? for example, at built-environment level. At this level, the dilemma can be negotiated towards win-win solution.


To be continued in Part #3.



Urban Environmentalism – Part #1

Economic development and environmental protection do not commonly go hand-in-hand. A simple example, many countries develop their economy by utilizing natural resources, in which natural resources are contained within our ecosystem i.e. environment. In this case, developing an economy-based natural resources means to destroy the environment at the same time. As shown in environment-economy model, economy and environment are within a single entity and affect one another.

Environment-Economics Model

From the above model, we can see that economics and environment are two entities with a same coin, in other word they cannot be separated, at least up until today. Regardless either developed or under-developed counties, the dependency on natural resources is there, even though with different level dependency. Developing and under-developed countries are largely depending on natural resources  to develop their economy.

To be continued in Part #2.

Poverty Alleviation: through rural-urban planning Part #6

Part #6: Conclusion and References


Demand of cheap labor by urban industrial sectors in one hand, and constant supply of cheap rural agricultural labor in the other hand have created rural-urban migration. At a level where urban sectors could not absorb the constant supply of cheap labor of rural agricultural sectors, the unemployed migrants are transformed into informal sectors due to ease of entry characteristics.

Rural non-farm activities attempt to reduce the tendency of rural-urban migration by providing more job opportunities in the rural area, it also improves the rural income opportunities, hence alleviating rural poverty.

Informal sector, in most cases, creates urban problems, although they are also beneficial for the urban life. To minimize the problems that are created by the informal sector, they must be incorporated into the urban planning process, and the effort is directly or indirectly support poverty alleviation. The synergy of these trilateral approaches will have a significant impact to the poverty alleviation if they are undertaken concurrently.



Ahmed, Uddin Momtaz (1996). ‘Development of Rural Non-farm Activities: A Dynamic Approach to Poverty Alleviation in Rural Asia.’ Regional Development Studies, 2:1-22.

Amin, ATMN (1996). ‘The Asian Setting of the Informal Sector’s Growth Dynamic.’ Regional Development Dialogue, 17:71-93.

Amin, ATMN (2003). Readings on the Informal Sectors: Surplus Labour and the Informal Sectors. UEM, SERD, AIT.

Harper, Malcolm (1996). ‘Urban Planning and the Informal Sectors.’ Regional Development Dialogue, 17:97-118.

Shyamsundar, Priya (2002). Poverty-Environment Indicators. The World Bank Environment Department, Paper No. 84.

Todaro, Michael P (2000). Development Economics. Addison-Wesley, An Imprint of Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc, Seventh Edition.


Internet Sources:

Detiknews, 27 February 2013. Available online at: http://finance.detik.com/read/2013/02/27/134141/2181083/4/jakarta-kuasai-70-perputaran-uang-sayangnya-kesenjangan-tinggi Retrieved on 27 March 2014.

Poverty Alleviation: through rural-urban planning Part #5

Part #5: Trilateral Linkages of Poverty Alleviation Approaches

There is a common intersectional point among trilateral linkages, those are: informal sectors as the manifestation of rural-urban migration, rural non-farm activities, and accommodating informal sectors into urban planning; this common point is poverty alleviation. First axis, informal sectors are a strategic way of survival for rural migrants, with the existence of informal sectors, poor rural people can be survived. Therefore, informal sector is a direct response to the poverty alleviation attempts. Second axis, the rural non-farm activities are a sort of counter-magnet of rural-urban migration by providing more non-agriculture employments in the rural area. This effort has two-prong objectives; first, reducing the urban pull-factor by enhancing rural-pull factor; second, alleviating the poverty by improving rural income. The third axis is to incorporate informal sectors into urban planning. This issue attempts to cope with urban problems caused by informal sectors, if the second is a sort of a preemptive measure, the third more on remedial or restorative measures, but still fundamental. This attempt is to reduce urban poor by recognizing the informal sectors into a formal plan. The third axis deals with poverty alleviation in different ways.

The synergy of those three approaches would probably have a significant impact on the poverty alleviation that presently being a persistent problem in developing countries. Hence, the efforts are expected not in a partial manner, but integrative manner instead, therefore, the effect will be cumulative.

Source of picture is here.

As a complement of prevailing rural agricultural employments, the creation of rural non-farm activities must be able to minimize the tendency of migration. It should, therefore, be able to provide more attractive monetary opportunities in the rural area. It is because, with the same level of earnings with the urban area, the benefits would be more in the rural area. For example, because of no accommodation or transportation expenses would be required. With such advantages, the tendency of migration would probably be reduced.

The urban planning effort to alleviate the poverty might not only through accommodating informal sectors. It must also be able to reduce the primary cause of the enshrining of informal sector i.e. rural-urban migration itself. It does not necessarily mean that informal sectors must be stopped at all, rather try to control it. Urban planning could also provide more accessibility of rural-urban connection, for example, by providing appropriate inter districts and urban transportation, the highly accessible urban and the rural linkage would reduce the tendency of migration as well.

Some facts show that high accessibility could reduce the tendency to create slums in the urban area because people tend to commute from their home to the city.


Continued in Part #6: Conclusions and References

Poverty Alleviation: through rural-urban planning Part #4

Part #4: Incorporating Informal Sectors into Urban Planning

Planning implies professional planners who are the part of the official system of urban management, whose tasks is to determine and control the use of urban space by people other than themselves, who are also very often not members of the same socioeconomic group (Harper, 1996).

Urban planners establish an urban plan that contains the use of urban space in an efficient manner that mostly for the purpose of “formal” matters such as formal commercial, residential, industrial, social purposes and the like. It was rarely found the incorporating of informal matters such as the informal sector into the formal urban planning. However, the economic recognition of informal sector’s business in the urban development has driven the urban planners to incorporate the informal sector into formal urban planning.

The informal sector workers usually earn as much as or even more than those who do similar work in formal jobs (Harper, 1996). However, the thing that most concern in the informal sector’s business is that they do not have “spatial” security, and physical working conditions are usually worse. It can be formalized into formal urban planning and management. It could be done through, among others, the provision of legal space for informal sector’s business. Without legal backing they would receive harassments by formal security officers.

Source of the picture is here.

The largest and the most visible part of the informal sector are hawkers (Harper, 1996). He also noted that in most places, hawkers occupy a precarious position in the fringe of legality, and even if they do have a license to occupy a particular pitch, this right is often temporary and almost inevitably secondary to the claims of the formal property holder and the needs of vehicular traffics. They also need decent, but low-cost shelter to improve their employment security. Formal urban planning must then accommodate all of their needs.

Government usually owns numerous parcels of the lands, most of them are unutilized as urban voids or illegally occupied by illegal occupants. Instead of being unutilized or improperly occupied, these parcels of land, with the proper intervention of urban planning, can be utilized for informal sector purposes with adequate legal back-up. The urban voids are readjusted with appropriate planning to cater the needs of the informal sector. With this effort, the informal sectors have been incorporated into the formal urban planning process. The advantages that are attained by informal sectors are: the spatial security of their business, since they would not receive more harassment or eviction from the security officers. They would also enjoy more socially secured environment since the shelter could also be provided in one package. This package is included in a low or no interest loan scheme for informal business people, in order to avoid the opportunists and speculators, an appropriate regulation must be declared. Unfortunately, most of the cities do not appropriately accommodate the need of the informal sector into formal mechanism.

Providing sufficient basic infrastructure in the rural areas, particularly health, education and economic infrastructure will help to reduce rural to urban migration along with sufficient rural jobs. It must be the fundamental policies of the authorities to bridge the gap of rural-urban divide. By this process, the proportionate balance between urban and rural development will be maintained. The situation will be positive for both rural and urban development since rural-to-urban migration that mostly generates socio-economic problems in the urban area and lack rural workers in the villages will be minimized.


Continued in Part #5: Trilateral Linkages of Poverty Alleviation Approaches

Poverty Alleviation: through rural-urban planning Part #3

Part #3: Rural Non-farm Activities to Reduce Migration

The rural-urban migration processes are enhanced by pull or push factors (Amin, 1996 and Todaro, 2000). Pull factor, such as demand of cheap labor by urban industrial sectors, is the most common stimulant of the process. However, push factor also prevails in many situations and places. The rural-urban migration, in many ways, creates urban problems that could not be appropriately accommodated by many countries; therefore, it was regarded as urban disadvantages instead of advantages.

A common solution to this problem is generally taken at city level instead of at locality/sources. It frequently happens that urban planning and management cannot fully accommodate this chronic problem, and even most cities belatedly take the action that sometimes the problems could not be recovered at all and the solution would need more sources and efforts to cure. This situation is found in many developing countries. One of the appropriate solutions to this problem is “attacking the problem at its source.”

Source of this picture is here.

Many attempts have been undertaken to solve rural-urban migration, one of them is creating a counter-magnet of the migration. With the economic motives, the rural migrants would always choose the best choice among the available choices. For instance, if equally paid employments are available in the rural area, the migrants, most likely would choose this offer, since some advantages could be attained such as accommodation and transport costs. It perhaps is the underlying rationale for the creation of rural non-farm activities, as a complementary of rural-agricultural employment.

Another argument is as offered by Ahmed (1995/96) is due to the slow growth of agriculture as well as manufacturing employment, rapid growth population and the labor force, and the consequent low per capita land availability, increasing landlessness, and unemployment. In author’s opinion, culture, land suitability and the scarcity of other resources such as water also play important roles in the migration process. Author’s empirical observations found that in many Indonesian sub-races such as Bataks and Minangs in Sumatra Island Indonesia, the migration to the urban center is a sort of family pride, whereas these two sub-races have actually fertile and huge family land-plots, and their life is not so poor. In this case, culture pushes people to migrate or culture-driven migration. Another different rationale to migrate is due to land unsuitability and water scarcity. This situation happens, for example, in the eastern part of Indonesia, where water is a precious thing and land is arid. The farmers could not stay any longer for cultivating their land since the shortage of water is taking place in the almost yearlong period. Then, they migrate to find better earning and economic opportunity for living since the migrants do possess no adequate skill and education. At the end of the day, they create new problems in urban areas.

Ahmed (1996) proposes that the development of rural non-farm activities may be commenced with small-scale, low-cost public works appears to be a promising way of stimulating rural employment. The activities could also supply a wide range of goods and services to agriculture and rural population, which contribute to the growth of agricultural output and improvement of living conditions of the rural population. The non-farm sector can also provide supplies of handy-crafts. Again, author’s personal observations found that marketing is the most critical aspect in this process. Author found this situation in the periphery of the Bogor District, Indonesia (about 40 km south of Jakarta). In this district, creative rural people made a kind of handy-craft, but with no appropriate marketing system. They marketed their products through brokers and brokers sold it in a supermarket in Jakarta. The price of a unit of a handy-craft product that rural people sold was about USD 50 Cents, but the supermarket sold it about USD 2.50, five times. Then, who gains most? The rural people as handy-crafters did not know this situation; their only concerned is how to make money in a very quick manner. In this transaction, the rural people gained only USD 20 cents per unit, after deducting for raw material costs. One handy-crafter was able to produce five units per day. It means they would gain only USD 1 per day, which is equivalent to below the poverty line income. When the author investigated further, it was found that the supermarket gained the most. From the marginal benefits of USD 2.0 per unit, the brokers bagged USD 50 cents, transportation cost USD 10 cents per unit, and the remaining USD 1.40 was supermarket’s profit. It is, of course, unfair for the sustainability of rural jobs. Interventions from the authorities are required by creating a healthy market and suppressing the brokers, and thus, the hand-crafter would gain more from the transaction process.

Another possible rural non-farm activity is infrastructure construction activities. However, this activity needs certain skill, which is rarely possessed by the villagers. There are two solutions for this constraint: train villagers to improve their skill in order to meet the minimal requirements. Another solution is to place the unskilled villagers in non-qualification construction jobs such as helpers or laborers. These two solutions are possible and were implemented successfully by Indonesian government through Social Safety Net Program in 1999/2000 when the 1998 monetary crisis struck Indonesia. During the event, many workers were laid off, bankruptcies of business and negative economic development.

Although many weaknesses of the rural non-farm activities were found, but Ahmed (1996) argues that in general these activities are deemed promising to perform an important welfare function by reducing income inequalities and raising the standard of living of the rural masses. He also stated that the development of a rural non-farm sector deserves explicit recognition in national development strategies, especially in national employment policy. A conscious policy focus on the development of rural non-farm activities sector is a prerequisite for a comprehensive approach to its long-term growth and expansion. A comprehensive policy needs to be formulated keeping in view the fundamental balance of interest between agriculture and industry.


Continued in Part #4: Incorporating Informal Sectors into Urban Planning