UI Researchers Get Australian Grant to Study World's Most Polluted River

Arfi Bambani
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Penny Williams, with University of Indonesia reseachers
Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Penny Williams, with University of Indonesia reseachers - Two researchers from University of Indonesia (UI), Dr. Rr. Dwinanti Rika Marthanty, ST, MT. from the Faculty of Engineering (FTUI) and Dr. Reni Suwarso from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (FISIP UI) received a grant of IDR 1.8 billion ($125,000) from the state of Victoria, Australia, to tackle pollution in the Citarum River, West Java. This grant is provided through Study Melbourne Research Partnerships program, which is channeled through Veski.

"As we know, Citarum River, West Java, is the most polluted river in the world," said one of the grantees, Dwinanti in a statement quoted by Antara, Friday, January 21, 2022.

The grant aims to enable Citarum Program to form an international consortium to develop and test new and scalable approaches to converting wastewater and solid waste into new resources, combine innovative technologies with new business models, institutions, and behaviors to tackle river pollution.

Reni said the program also aims to create a River Transformation Framework (RTF) through combining urban design principles with insights from the transition to urban sustainability and the circular economy.

The program will also develop a living laboratory demonstration site on Citarum River and will collaborate with the government, local residents, and agricultural industry players, to find solutions that can run in a decentralized manner. In the future, it will be owned, managed, and operated locally by the community.

Project Director and Informal Cities Lab Director, Monash University, Professor Diego Ramirez-Lovering, said the living laboratory in the Citarum river basin is a form of a place-based research initiative, where partners and local villages jointly design an integrated urban model which tackles river pollution caused by a lack of sewage and sanitation infrastructure. This program aims to jointly create solutions related to waste and water pollution which is expected to encourage the creation of new behaviors and practices.

Going forward, this will help restore and protect rivers, as well as improve the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable river communities.

At the invitation of West Java Government, the consortium will develop a pilot site on the Citarik River section, a 2.6 km upstream tributary of the Citarum. Over the next 12 months, a feasibility study for a circular wastewater and sewage system will disclose the selection of sustainable technologies and social solutions to be implemented in Citarum watershed.

Met on a separate occasion, Secretary of University of Indonesia, dr. Agustin Kusumayati, M.Sc., Ph.D., expresses her appreciation for this grant. “International collaboration is something that University of Indonesia strongly supports. Through this Citarum grant program, UI brings local knowledge in governance and social sciences related to changing the behavior of the surrounding community as well as engineering knowledge related to hydrological and spatial modeling in the construction of living laboratories. We hope that this research will produce context-specific evidence that can be developed as a solution to be applied across rivers in Indonesia and Asia-Pacific," she said.

The Citarum project has started on October 15, 2021, and is expected to be completed on October 14, 2022. The project, which is jointly led by Monash University and University of Indonesia, also involves several international research institutions including Padjadjaran University (UNPAD), CSIRO, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG) in Switzerland, as well as Environment and Research and Development Agency of West Java. In the future, it will become a multi-year learning and innovation program.

The Citarum Program is one of 15 research projects that have received a total of A$2.8 million in grant funding from State of Victoria, Australia. These research projects cover mining, advanced manufacturing, health, and education, including the use of virtual reality to train healthcare professionals remotely in 12 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Tag # citarum river # world's most plluted river # west java # university of indonesia # research # australia # victoria # biodiversity

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