One of the world’s most polluted rivers, the Citarum in Indonesia, is about to receive a massive cleanup that will improve the lives of millions of people, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said yesterday.
The regional bank said it had agreed to provide a US$500 million multi-tranche loan package to support Indonesian government efforts to rehabilitate the strategic but horribly polluted river on Java island.
The loan, to be delivered in chunks of US$50 million over 15 years, is part of the government’s US$3.5 billion plan to restore the Citarum and improve the lives of 28 million people who depend on it in some way.
ADB Senior Water Resources Engineer Christopher Morris said pollution levels in the river compromised public health, while the livelihoods of fishing families had been hit by the widespread death of fish.
“The Citarum River basin urgently needs improved management and significant infrastructure investments,” he said. “ADB’s initial assistance will provide safe water supply and sanitation facilities for poor families who currently use water from the polluted canal for bathing, laundry and other uses.
“It will also allow the cultivation of an additional 25,000 hectares of paddy, benefiting 25,000 farming families,” Morris said.
He said the loans would bolster local efforts to integrate water management along the river, which stretches from Bandung in central West Java Province to the capital Jakarta, some 160km to the northwest.
Once it reaches the capital it becomes a canal bubbling with industrial and household waste, but it still provides 80 percent of the surface water supply to the city of 12 million people.
Along the way it is lined with hundreds of small-scale industries, only about 20 percent of which are estimated to have waste water treatment programs.
Villages also use the river as a place to dump their untreated sewage and household garbage.
Morris said the ADB and the Indonesian authorities would work together with local communities.
A health ministry survey published in the Jakarta Globe daily this week showed that 40 percent of households in the country of 234 million people were not fitted with toilets.