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One Risk Replaces Another

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Floods, Evictions and Policies on Jakarta’s Riverbanks

image of Asian Journal of Social Science

It has long been recognised that poor, marginalised groups are the most vulnerable to hazards related to climate change. Several recent studies have suggested that such communities may be doubly vulnerable when interventions are carried out to make climate-change-related adaptations. Climate-change interventions may be “maladaptive” and may further “injure” vulnerable communities. Although such findings are troubling, little empirical research has been conducted to explore how and where climate change interventions and discourses are shaping and being shaped by social stratification, inclusion and exclusion. This article therefore aims to contribute to our understanding of the negative (side-)effects of climate change interventions for vulnerable social groups. We investigate this issue in the context of climate change and increased flood risk in Jakarta, Indonesia. Our analysis of two cases of intervention shows how these are “maladaptations”. Flood policies in Jakarta are clearly failing to mitigate risk for the city’s poorest populations and are instead compounding the risks they face with those of eviction and increased poverty. The data on which this paper is based were collected during a total of one-and-a-half years of anthropological fieldwork conducted by the authors between 2010 and 2015.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam ; 2: Gothenburg University


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