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Piped Dreams Drinking Water for the Urban Poor: The Management of a Common-Pool Resource in Yogyakarta

Masterarbeit 2006 104 Seiten

Ethnologie / Volkskunde


Table of Contents


Abbreviations / Acronyms and Indonesian Expressions

List of Illustrations

List of Appendixes


Chapter 1: Introduction to the Research Question

Chapter 2: Theory on Resources and Common-Pool Resource Management
2.1. Forms of Resource Management
2.2. Rational Choice and Irrational Outcomes
2.3. Rules for Common-Pool Resources
2.4. Civil Society and Non Governmental Organisations
2.5. The Principles of Gotong Royong and Tanggung Renteng

Chapter 3: The Flow of Water: Providing Drinkable Water to the Poor
3.1. Drinking Water on a Global Scale
3.2. Drinking Water in Indonesia
3.2.1. The Privatization of Service Utilities in Indonesia
3.2.2. The Bottled Water Industry in Indonesia
3.3. Drinking water on a Local Level: Yogyakarta
3.3.1. Hygiene and Housing in a Javanese Kampung
3.3.2. The Municipal Utility of Yogyakarta
3.3.3. The Private Water Industry in Yogyakarta
3.3.4. The Private Home Industry

Chapter 4: Methods of the Field Research
4.1. The Situation of a Field Experience
4.2. The Search and Choice of Information
4.3. The Methods and Techniques
4.4. An Example: Water Test and Focus Group Discussion

Chapter 5: The Actual Case Study
5.1. The Kampung: Jogoyudan
5.1.1. The Population of the Kampung
5.1.2. The River Code
5.1.3. The Predominance of Dug Wells
5.1.4. The Water Tower “Tirta Mandiri”
5.1.5. The Problem of Sewage
5.2. The Local Non Governmental Organisations
5.3. The Water Supply Company: PDAM “Tirta Marta

Chapter 6: The Example of Good Resource Management: Kampung Jetisharjo
6.1. The Kampung’s History of Water Management
6.2. The Organisation and Institutions

Chapter 7: Back to Theory and Resource Management
7.1. Setting the Rules for Common-Pool Resource Management
7.2. The Comparison of the Kampungs

Chapter 8: Discussion and Analysis
8.1. Conclusions
8.2. Recommendations


List of References



With this thesis I will end my six years of study on the field of Cultural Anthropology. I started off at the University of Cologne, taking classes in Anthropology, Political Science and Indonesian Philology. I met a lot of inspiring and motivated people there and some have become my closest friends, who never grow tired of comforting me when times are rough. The Master program in Leiden gave me the opportunity to work with teaching staff, which is very enthusiastic about Indonesia, which fuelled my interest and created a work atmosphere that was very fruitful. The fieldwork trip to Indonesia was the “rite de passage” for me in becoming a real anthropologist, going through hard and exhausting times while writing the proposal as well as in the field, but meeting some of the greatest people who cared for me and welcomed me in their homes after knowing me just for a very short time. My thank goes to the staff of some local NGOs, who provided me with information and did not grow tired of my questions: Yayasan Griya Mandiri, WalHi Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, Media Alamku, Pondok Rakyat, Dian Desa, and Lestari.

I want to thank my supervisors, Gerard Persoon and Bart Barendrecht for their critique and fruitful input on my thesis and their patience with me. I also want to thank Sylvia Tidey, Sanne Simmers, Ali Al Hadaui, Annemarie Samuels, Esther van Stam, Yanti de Boeren and Anita Kuscerova, who were my companions on the fieldwork trip and I could not have wished for better company during the preparation period and the three month in Yogyakarta.

The topic of my research has become a heart topic, because I am utterly convinced that this world can be an even better place if we manage to care more for each other, do not waste our resources and create an atmosphere of more equality so that every human being has everything one needs to be healthy, nourished, comfortable and safe. Now and in the future.

That is why I want to dedicate this thesis to all the children of Jogoyudan, The Sekolah Dasar Bopkri and the Sekolah Dasar Gondolayu, because these are the children of Indonesia and its future. Briefly after my visit to Yogyakarta the region was struck by a terrible earthquake that cost thousands of lives and destroyed the homes of many more, as well as infrastructure, wells and water pipes. In emergency situations like that it is even more visible how important clean water is to everyday life. But a functioning drinking water provision has to be on the agenda of policy makers not only in times of crisis but anytime.

Abbreviations / Acronyms and Indonesian Expressions

illustration not visible in this excerpt

List of Illustrations


Textbox 1: The Flow of Water Around Yogyakarta City

Textbox 2: The Tea Test. Local Practices to Determine Water Quality

Textbox 3: A Story about Community Participation and Gotong Royong

Textbox 4: Groundwater Exploitation in the City


Figure 1: Schema of the Prisoners’ Dilemma

Figure 2: Results of Water Test in Jogoyudan

Figure 3: Map of Rukun Warga 08 in Jogoyudan, Yogyakarta

Figure 4: Applying the Design Principles of CPR Management

on the Two Fieldwork Sites


Picture 1: View on the River Code Title

Picture 2: The Rainwater Drainage in Jogoyudan

Picture 3: Two Different Water-Dispenser in Jogoyudan

Picture 4: A Typical Public Open Well in Jogoyudan

Picture 5: The Water Tower of Tirta Mandiri in Jogoyudan

Picture 6: The Water Tower of Tirta Kencana in Jetisharjo

The pictures, figures and textboxes shall illustrate the arguments made in the text by either visualizing them or by giving an example for what is theoretically described in the text or a remarkable anecdote.

The pictures are taken by me and the figures are my own creation.

List of Appendixes

Appendix A Results of the Water Test

Appendix B-1 Questionnaire for the Grades Four to Six at the

Primary School Gondolayu

Appendix B-2 Questionnaire for the Residents of Jogoyudan RW 08

Appendix C-1 Water Sources and Persons Engaged of

Water Supply Establishment 1999-2001

Appendix C-2 Growth of Water Supply Establishments, 2000-2004

Appendix C-3 Consumers of Water supply by Consumer Group in

Yogyakarta City 2000-2002

Appendix C-4 Quantity of Water Supply by Water Supply Establishment

by Consumer Category in D.I. Yogyakarta Province


Appendix C-5 Production of Water Supply and Water Sold per Month

in Yogyakarta City 2004

Appendix C-6 Consumers of Water supply by Consumer Group

in Yogyakarta City 2001-2003

Appendix C-7 Consumers of Water supply by Consumer Group

in Yogyakarta City 2002-2004

Appendix D Drinking Water Tariff


*** Even before the sun rises, Ibu Metty wakes up in the morning. Her husband Asung came home late yesterday from work and is still sleeping besides her on the thin mattress on the floor next to the bed where their two daughters, Rara and Ragil are huddling against each other. Slowly and without making a noise Metty slips out under the blanket and disappears behind the battered door that leads to the tiny kitchen and the kamar mandi of their single-storey home. She can hear the patter of rain on the corrugated sheet roof. When there will be enough money, we’ll build another storey to the house, she thinks. Insch’Allah. In the kitchen she puts on a kettle with water and lights the petroleum stove.

The kamar mandi is moist and mouldy, several container filled with water stand around the narrow room, drops of water dripping from the tap into one of them. In this upper part of the kampung, water from the tap will only be available at around 10 o’clock, when the houses further down the slope near the river have had their share. They are all connected to a water tower right in front of Metty’s house, but its capacity is not big enough to serve everyone at the same time. That’s why she filled the buckets and containers last night, so she has enough water for doing the laundry. Before the water tower was built 2 years ago, they were getting water from the local water supply companies PDAM, but she had to spend more than double the money she pays now and often the pipes stayed dry anyway.

She pours soap powder in a washbowl and starts scrubbing the laundry of her family. White shirts and underwear, school uniforms and sheets get soaked in the soapy water. She tries not to use too much of the water so her family will still be able to mandi when they get up. The sound of boiling water can be heard in the kitchen, but Metty does not hurry to get the water. She knows that she has to wait a little longer in order to make sure all germs are deadened by the heat. Never would she drink un-boiled water, because everyone knows you can get very ill. And being ill is too expensive. She remembers when Asung had to stay home from work with fever and bellyaches last month, how she had to borrow money from her sister to pay for the medication and the school fee for her daughters. When Asung is not working, he does not earn any money and her small salary from her part time job does not even pay for the food they need every day. But she does not worry too much. She puts some of the hot water into a glass in order to make tea for Asung, the rest is poured into a clay amphora where it can cool down and be consumed for drinking and cooking later that day.

In the living room, the only room of the house, her family is awake now. Asung has rolled up the mattress and stowed it in a corner against the wall. Rara and Ragil, the daughters, go to have a shower while the rain has stopped and the sun is rising above the kampung. The rainfall that night was pretty heavy, torrents built up on the stairs in front of her house and there might be some flooding, some banjir, of the river. In rainy season this happens all the time. Metty is glad that she is having her own bathroom and does not have to go down to the public washing places, because every time there is heavy rain, the water gage rises and muddy river water shoots into the pools where people have to wash and shower. The river is very dirty from all the wastewater that is disposed from the houses, hotels and hospitals nearby directly into the stream. Garbage floats on the water, on its journey to the southern sea.

After they had breakfast, Asung takes the girls to school on his scooter. He has to go to work and he does not want to be late. When he tries to manoeuvre his way through the narrow alleys, another scooter, heavily loaded with water galleons, blocks his way. His neighbour Bapak Yono has a good job at the town hall and gets his water delivered twice a week. Asung and Metty also have a dispenser and a galleon, covered in dust in a corner of the living room. In the beginning they would replace it from time to time, but it was always consumed so quickly and replacing it would cost a day’s salary. At his factory they are also having galleons of water, but those are being refilled in a small shop just around the corner. Asung really likes to drink this water. It’s healthy and clean as he can see from the test results displayed on the wall of the small refill station. He often has a chat with the women who own the refill station and she can make a very good living out of it, as this industry is booming, she told him lately.

At home, Metty has finished hanging up laundry outside behind her house. She goes down the stairs that lead down to the river. Besides her, suds and wastewater from neighbouring houses run in an open concrete pipe and gush out into the River Code right in front of Metty’s friend’s house Ibu Sum. She wants to sit for a while with her and chat before starting to cook. Metty can see her coming, carrying two heavy buckets one in each hand. Water spills over the rim while she is approaching and Metty walks towards her to help her with the heavy load.” PDAM water was dark brown again this morning when I opened the tap” Ibu Sum explains, “but I have white laundry to do and it will always turn yellow if I use this “coffee water” they send us”. That’s why she fetched the water from one of the public wells, the one right next to the river.

Another neighbour is joining them and they sit down in front of Ibu Sums house in the morning sun. “The prices for petroleum, electricity and water are going up again.” she sighs “My son just read it in the newspaper” ***

Chapter 1 Introduction to the Research Question

The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses. An adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, reduce the risk of water-related disease and provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements”.

United Nations General Comment 15, Committee on Economic and Cultural Rights, 2002

We are all connected by water. Water is the source of every life on this planet and there is just a limited amount available. Still, too many people take water as granted, as something that is free and natural, falling from the sky, effervescing out of springs and running along in rivers so everyone can be served. Unfortunately it is not like that.

In the last decade, discussions about the scarcity of water increased. The use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold within the 20th century only, while the world population is still growing and even more water will be needed in the future. Besides, the trend of urbanization and industrialization is accelerating and not going to stop. In the year 2000 approximately forty-seven percent of the world’s population was living in urban areas[1] and the prognoses for the years to come predict a steady rise. This means that water may become a scarce resource in the near future, a “blue gold” as Maude Barlow (2001) puts it. The former vice president of the World Bank chose to make an even stronger prediction: „If the war of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water” (Serageldin 1995 In: Shiva 2002: xxx). In order to prevent such a scenario and to live in a world where everyone is entitled to the vital share of clean water for the everyday use, research has to be done on the different living conditions in countries throughout the world, in order to understand not only the geological and biological processes of water resource renewal but also the cultural meaning and use of water in a social context. This thesis shall contribute to this challenge by discussing the special situation of access to clean water for the urban poor in the Javanese city Yogyakarta.

Yogyakarta is the capital of the Yogyakarta Special Region province (Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta, DIY) in Central Java, Indonesia. Since the over 32 year long dictatorship of Suharto ended in 1998, the city has rapidly developed and is striving to change from an economical and political backwater to become a thriving “cultural, educational and touristy hub” (Hamengku Buwono X 2003), able to attract high-tech investment as well as industries to set up in the province. As Hamengku Buwono X, the current Sultan and governor of Yogyakarta, states: “Our mission is to transform Jogjakarta into a premier Asian city in which to live, work, and play.” (2003).

The decentralisation laws, which were put in to force in 2001, put the responsibility for “regulating and governing the interests of the local people according to their own initiative based on the aspirations of the people in accordance with rules and regulations” on the authority of the autonomous region.” (Suwondo 2002:1). The growth of population, tourists, urban activities and industries call of course for supporting infrastructure. The provision of a well functioning water system and simultaneously an improvement of sewerage systems and waste water treatment should be on top of the list for a city that wants to develop in tourism and industry as is going to grow further in number of inhabitants. But the question is: Who is going to have access to water and how is this access going to be organized?

Those in charge of the water systems - be it national or regional governments or private enterprises - often name “natural” water scarcity or the high costs of installing the needed infrastructure or even the unwillingness to pay for water by especially poor inhabitants for the inadequate supply with water of all urban areas (Swyngedouw 2003, Annamraju 1996). In many cases, none of this is factual or an unquestionable truth. The commodification of water has turned a previously social- or common- good into an economical good, but one that is vital to every living being. No one can be excluded from the never-ending circular flow of water. So we can just have a look at the different ways people participate in the struggle for water, which is in many cases a struggle for survival.

The research conducted in Yogyakarta in the first quarter of 2006 was concerned with the needs of the urban poor concerning clean and drinkable water on the very local level.

The main question this thesis is dealing with is:

How do the urban poor in Yogyakarta manage their access to clean drinking water?

Who are the parties involved in the distribution of clean drinking water and what are the roles they occupy? How is the current situation regarding clean water for the urban poor in Yogyakarta and what are the measures already taken on different levels of society to ameliorate it?

Beyond answering these questions I also wanted to find out about how the management of the resource water for the urban poor could be improved and especially what the people themselves can do to participate in a more active way in the sustainable use and fair distribution of water.

I will have a look at how the access to clean water for the urban poor is structured in Yogyakarta and will try to show the shortcomings of the present arrangements on the example of a selected community. There will also be the presentation of a good example of community based water management already established in Yogyakarta. I shall discuss the impact of civil society and its institutions that give a voice critical to the state and in favour of those who are neglected by actual policies. I also tried to find out more about the position of the regional government and how it uses the political power to change Yogyakarta in this new century. Democracy is still very young in Indonesia and people have to get used to participate, to voice and demand their needs and to take their responsibilities as well, either through political participation or institutions of civil society. In any case, knowledge plays a key role and therefore it is important to understand what people in the poor neighbourhoods know about their situation and their rights, how they get information and who is providing the information about the future of the water situation in Yogyakarta.

The main research question is answered by looking at the problem from four different perspectives, by analyzing the involvement of four different actors in the provision of drinking water: First the public utilities owned by the state, then the private sector, which is in this case the bottled water industry, the Non Governmental Organizations and last but not least the poor people in the urban environment. What I wanted to find out is what the actual needs and goals of these groups are, how they interact and connect to provide the population with affordable and healthy drinking water. The underlying theory is the one of common-pool resource management, which will be explained and applied on the Yogyakarta setting in the following chapter two and in more detail in the concluding chapter.

Chapter three will give the reader a deeper understanding of the current state of available clean water for people throughout the world, narrowing down the focus on Indonesia and finally on Yogyakarta as a city. Chapter four is about methods and techniques of the research. But it is also about the problems and challenges a young anthropologist encounters on a first research, about the lessons learned, about adaptation and innovation in the field. Chapter five analyzes the empirical data and is divided in three parts: First I will talk about water in the context of the kampung[2] and its social and political organization by describing a concrete example of an urban kampung in the heart of Yogyakarta. Then I will have a look at the Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that work with people in the kampung and see where their motivation comes from and what their work is about in connection with water. The third level of the chapter on the concrete research example is about the public utilities service, in this case the municipal water company (usually referred to as PDAM which is an abbreviation of the Indonesian word for it: Perusahan Daerah Air Minum), their role, their goals their future plans. Following is chapter six, which is entirely dedicated to the description and analysis of another kampung in Yogyakarta that has already managed to build up a community based water distribution system. Afterwards in chapter seven, I will compare the two kampungs I visited and did research on and apply the theory of the common-pool resource on them.

In a concluding chapter eight, the findings are presented in a condensed way and I will give new questions that were evoked during my work and give some policy advice for political actors and NGOs.

Chapter 2 Theory on Resources and Common-Pool Resource Management

Therein is the tragedy. Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit- in a world that is limited. Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons.

Hardin 1968: 1244

2.1. Forms of Resource Management

Throughout Indonesia and much of the majority (developing) world, community-based property rights exist in many places and are often distinguishable from western property rights concepts. Western concepts are based largely on state-created and protected private individual rights, or on socialist concepts that theoretically vest the state with ownership of all land and other natural resources in order to supposedly best promote the public interest.

Lynch & Harwell 2002:4

Water is a natural resource of limited amount in the world. But how this resource is distributed and who has access to it can be viewed under different theoretical angels.

The scope of this research was to a large extent based on the theory of the common property or common-pool resource as used by Garrett Hardin (1968) but further developed and studied by Elinor Ostrom (1990). The term “common-pool resource” (CPR) refers per definition to a natural or human made resource system the size or characteristics of which makes it costly (but not impossible) to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use (Ostrom 1990). It has to be understood that a common-pool resource is not a public good, which is by definition also non-excludable but non-rivalrous, which means that benefits of public goods fail to exhibit consumption scarcity whereas a common-pool resource can become scarce or even vanish altogether[3]. The CPR can be provided and owned by a state, a single person, a firm or even multiple individuals or groups of people using the resource system at the same time. The situation in Yogyakarta is complex as water is not just a common-pool resource, but there are several different and distinct entities related to water, each itself a system where resource management can be applied. Ownership and the possibility of setting rules and regulations are key determiners for understanding how the resource of water is managed.

At least four forms of ownership can be distinguished in the case of this study. First there is free access water. A free access good does not belong to anybody, everybody is free to appropriate from the resource without having to submit to any regulations on quantity or time. It truly is a public property owned by nobody and everybody at the same time. Another possibility is water that is state owned, which is meant in the sense according to socialist concepts and within the setting of a democratic state. In an ideal case that would imply that it belongs to the society and therefore the state should regulate the appropriation of water from a social viewpoint. Rules and regulations should then be set according to the idea of fair distribution. If the state is not following democratic principles, the resources do not belong to the society but to the individual or group that is ruling the state. Social aspects can then be neglected in favour of profit seeking. This is also the case for privatized water where the personal profit of the owner, which can be an individual or an enterprise, is in the foreground. Multinational corporations are often responsible for the privatization of natural resources and push forward the process of commodification. State owned and free access water can turn into privatized water when for example the state sells its water utilities to private enterprises or a factory gains the right to bottle water from a certain aquifer or spring which is then not accessible to others anymore. An ideal way of managing the resource also in regard to sustainability is then common-pool water. In this case, a local community follows self inducted rules and takes the responsibility for ensuring a sustainable provision with the resource. The group of appropriators is responsible for the good management of the resource and is making rules for appropriation by the group members. It is somehow a mixture of privatized and state owned property forms, because the common-pool resource is allocated to a specific group which is then taking care of the fair distribution. Unlike individually privatized water (by an enterprise or a single person), legally recognized common-pool resource systems are not as prone to commodification because they are owned jointly and the decision to sell any rights will always involve the whole group.

For the clarification of some terms: according with Elinor Ostrom (1990: 30), those withdrawing units from the resource system will be labelled “appropriators”, whereas those who arrange for the provision of the CPR are called “providers”. I will refer to as “producers” for all actors who actually construct or repair the system itself or take other actions to ensure the long-term sustenance. In many cases, the producers and the providers are the same person or institution, but this does not always have to be the case.

Textbox 1: The Flow of Water Around Yogyakarta City

illustration not visible in this excerpt

2.2. Rational Choice and Irrational Outcomes

In every group there will be individuals who will ignore norms and act opportunistically when given a chance. There are also situations in which the potential benefits will be so high that even strongly committed individuals will break norms. Consequently, the adoption of norms of behaviour will not reduce opportunistic behaviour to zero.

Ostrom 1990: 36

Urbanisation leads to a strong commodification of water. By commodification I mean in a more Marxist way, that a huge economic value is allocated to water, and a whole industry is created around this natural resource that should, according to a UN declaration in 2002, be accessible to every human being to ensure human rights. Initially water is not produced by someone for a market but the distribution and treatment system and its possibilities of exclusion, allocate power to those providing the system and create economic value dependant on market calculations to the resource water. It becomes a private good that can be sold and is due to pricing speculations which are external to the state and the nation but are located in the global sphere of business. The urban environment makes its fair distribution more difficult and the resource becomes even scarcer than it might have been in a rural context. Pollution is also a factor here, because consumers in densely populated urban areas have to boil water prior to consumption or pump it up from greater depth to make sure their water is free from bacterial contamination and dangerous substances. These actions involve the use of electricity and fuels which is also due to frequent price raises in Indonesia and have to be added to the monetary value of water. Treating water, cleaning it and leading it via pipes into households also makes it costly. Water becomes a commodity with a market value, of interest for states but also for private enterprises. Therefore the access to water has to be regulated in a social way so that everyone can get a share of the vital resource. The problem arising is that individuals will usually act in their own best interest which often is in opposition to action that would be best for the collective. Underlying the theory of the CPR management is therefore the game of the prisoners’ dilemma and the ideas of rational choice, widely used in different fields like political science or economy. It is conceptualised as a non-cooperative game, in which all players possess complete information but are either not allowed or not able to communicate. In short the prisoners’ dilemma has the following set-up:

The police arrest two suspects named A and B. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and having separated both prisoners, visit each of them and offer the same deal: if one testifies for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the silent accomplice receives the full five year sentence and the betrayer goes free. If both stay silent, the police can only give both prisoners two years for a minor charge. If both betray each other they receive a four year sentence each.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Schema of the Prisoners’ Dilemma

Each player has a dominant strategy, that means it will always be more profitable for the rational player to choose this strategy, namely in this example to defect – irrespective the action of the other player, as there is either the chance of being released or lessening the sentence to four years. But choosing this best individual strategy will not lead to the best possible outcome for both collectively, so in this case, there won’t be a pareto-optimal[4] outcome, which would be reached if both would cooperate.

The fascinating aspect of this theoretical game is that individually rational strategies lead to collectively irrational outcomes. According to this theory, it is difficult to get individuals to achieve collective welfare as it is opposed to individual welfare (see Olson 1965). In his book, Olson argues that “unless the number of individuals is quite small or unless there is coercion or some other special device to make individuals act in their common interest, rational self-interested individuals will not act to achieve their common or group interests” (Olson 1965). In the setting of Common-Pool Resource management, the game presents itself as an n-person non-cooperative game, with a number of players (n) making their choices independently of each other without being forced to make a commitment by external actors. Garrett Hardin also illustrates this “tragedy of the commons” (Hardin 1968) by inviting the reader to imagine a grazing pasture that is “open to all”. Each herder receives benefits from his own cattle but suffers from the destruction of the commons when his and the other animals overgraze. The herders want to maximise their profit and are going to put more and more animals each on the pasture whenever possible. This has both negative and positive effects that are divided unequally: The herder will receive all the direct benefits from the extra animal but all the herders will share the degradation of the pasture. Individually putting more cattle is always a good choice but if every herder does it, the grazing land will degenerate and won’t support any animal in the future. The solution to this paradox is a mutual agreement of the herders among themselves how many animals are allowed on the meadow by each herder, based on the long-time experience of both “players”. Especially in an example where more than two people are involved, observing one another and safeguarding the own wants and needs concerning the CPR are the best way to make everyone stick to the arrangement.

This brief explanation shows that urban water under certain aspects can also be regarded as a “common”, because the growth of urban settlements adds more and more humans to the somewhat limited resource of water, to stay in the analogy of Hardin’s’ example.

In all cases of common-pool resources, where exclusion from the common good is impossible or very costly, there arises the problem of “free-riders”. The term refers to actors who are taking more than their fair share of a common good or the reached benefits while not contributing to the joint effort, but to free ride on the effort of others (Olson 1990: 6). If everyone decides to take a “free-ride”, the collective benefit will not be produced, but the temptation of free-riding can influence the whole decision process of how much to invest in a common project.

Illegally taping a PDAM pipe, manipulate a water meter or using more than the allocated share when agreed upon would be an act of free-riding. The approach of Elinor Ostrom to the CPRs is especially useful for small scale common-pool resources, where people can communicate with each other and find solutions together - unlike the assumption underlying the prisoners’ dilemma, where the actors are unable to arrange amongst themselves. In her view, the most successful way to deal with CPRs is a mix of public and private instrumentalities, so neither a complete control by external authorities as the state, nor the imposition of full private property are the only ways to solve the problem. This doesn’t mean that arrangements provided by appropriators always have to work, but it is at least a possible alternative. In the case study on the situation of the urban poor and their access to drinking water in general in Yogyakarta, the scope of the research lies on how the situation for smaller communities within the city can be improved. There are other solutions than just trying to connect every household to the piped water system, provided by either the state or a private enterprise. I will show in the following chapter how this mixed approach of common-pool resource management can work for the urban poor as the happy medium.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

2.3. Rules for Common-Pool Resources

Common property regimes typically protect the core resource and allocate the fringe through complex community norms of consensus decision-making facing the difficult task to devise rules that limit the amount, timing, and technology used to withdraw various resource units from the resource system.

Wikipedia The Free Online Encyclopaedia: Common-Pool Resources

It is understood that in theory, people would be better off on the long term if they could commit to a set of self-inducted rules shared by the community concerned where this commitment could be monitored by the community who then has means of punishing those who don’t follow the rules. Monitoring and sanctioning are important factors of successful management of common-pool resources, as individuals might fall back on pre-existing dominant strategies instead of adhering to community rules therefore all being better off on the long run. One question is how big an entity need be to successfully monitor the observation of the community rules, meaning how many participants and decision makers are useful especially if they don’t share the same interests. Elinor Ostrom defines eight design principles that in her view are at the core of a stable system of distribution of CPRs (Ostrom 1990: 90) which are the following:

1. Clearly Defined Boundaries
2. Congruence between Appropriation and Provision Rules and Local Conditions
3. Collective Choice Arrangements
4. Monitoring
5. Graduate Sanctions
6. Conflict-Resolution Mechanisms
7. Minimal Recognition of Rights to Organize
8. Nested Enterprises (only for CPRs that are parts of larger systems)

Principle number one refers back to the question of appropriate size of the community. Principle number eight is met by the more complex and long lasting common-pool resource settings, when a self-organized local community is nested within in local, regional and national governmental jurisdictions. The scope of the fieldwork was on the situation of the poor people and their need for water as well as the possibilities for civil society to participate in the fair distribution of the scarce resource water, by creating institutions that adhere in some way to the given principles and therefore improve the drinking water situation in the city. Yogyakarta and all its inhabitants have a vital interest to organize the distribution of water in a better way, as free-riders (be it citizens like the urban poor, hotels or the industry) derogate the whole city, by either digging wells and therefore contributing to the risk of salination and pollution of groundwater or harming the whole piping system by taping it illegally.

I do not think that for example decentralizing the public piped water system is the redeemer of the problems people in CPRs-settings are confronted with, but it is an attempt that should be considered and can work, as many empirical studies show. “[…] Regional and national governments can play a positive role in providing facilities to enhance the ability of local appropriators to engage in effective institutional design. This positive role is quite different from the one envisioned in proposals to centralize control of natural resources.” (Ostrom 1990: 212 ).

In connection to the decentralization theory when it comes down to deal with CPRs, I also think that a lack of water supply in poor urban areas and the fate of being excluded from participation are in most cases not due to a lack of water in general but a symptom of social power relationships that exist in every society. Therefore an additional factor, that concerns the seventh principle defined by Elinor Ostrom, is social power relationships. According the sociologist Gerhard Lenski, two laws of distribution exist (Lenski 1924):

1) Men will share the product of their labour to the extent required to insure the survival and continued productivity of those others whose actions are necessary or beneficial to themselves and 2) Power will determine the distribution of nearly the entire surplus possessed by a society. Altruistic actions are rarely taking place. Weber defines power as “[t]he probability of persons of groups carrying out their will even when opposed by others.” (Weber 1946 In: Lenski 1924).

But things are not that simple, also because the concept of power is very special in the Javanese context. Benedict Anderson (1972) has analyzed “The Idea of Power in Javanese Culture” and pointed out four important differences to the western understanding of “power”. First, to Javanese people power is something almost tangible, “Power exists, independent of its possible users. It is not a theoretical postulate, but an existential reality.” (Anderson 1972: 7). Second, all power emerges from the same source and is therefore homogenous, making no difference between the source of power like wealth, social status, population, weapons and so on as it is usual in a western discourse. Another factor is the quantity of power, which is constant in the universe in the Javanese view. The total quantity does not change, only its distribution. That implies that if one wants to gain power, it has to be diminished at another place in the same proportion. The last important difference is that to Javanese, power does not raise the question of legitimacy, as power is neither good nor bad, it just is.

So if the power relationships are important to the distribution of water, we should keep in mind that these Javanese concepts exist and that they are still alive in the minds of the Javanese even if they may exist side by side with the western ideas of the power concept. In Yogyakarta, poor people are not prevented by means of force from getting water as there is no public discourse about excluding them from the water distribution system, but the fact that they are often outside the system and that even the promises to connect every neighbourhood by a certain time are not kept are a sign of the powerlessness of the inhabitants. A weak economical position and a minor role in political bodies are additional problems. But often they accept this position as given because the power is in the hands of the rulers (government, the sultan, etc.) and not theirs. So what means do the people have to change this situation and make them heard in a way that will have an impact on political decisions? What responsibilities do they have as citizens of Indonesia and part of the civil society? How does the privatisation of water companies affect and change these ways? We have to keep in mind that when talking about water, we can never talk of a system where someone has no access at all, because that would mean death to this person.

2.4. Civil Society and the Non Governmental Organisations

“Civil Society is not similar to natural society, nor is civil society similar to political society because it is not “above” the people. Civil society contains its own basic rights, in which the state no longer holds power. The state, according to this concept, protects civil society from natural society.”

Hadiwinata 2003: 117

The theory of common-pool resource management and the prisoners’ dilemma is very helpful when looking at the group of appropriators only and on the way they manage their resources. But there are also external actors, like the government, who can own resources and make rules, or like NGOs who mediate between the commonality and institutions of politics or economy that have to be taken into account. Indonesia is becoming a country where NGOs are all over the place, busy with development projects or encouraging social movements. But what is not clear is what their motives are and how they get the mandate to stand up for a certain cause.

NGOs are part and a product of the civil society and I will give brief insight on the state of civil society in Indonesia today and distinguish between two different categories of NGOs that are important for the research example in this text.

Civil society is a public space of mediation between citizens and the state. The actors of civil society differ from actors of the state or the market because they adhere to certain premises such as no profit distribution and are politically independent. (Kuhn 2005: 79). This space of civil society exists in every nation, but in Indonesia it has become more powerful after Suharto stepped down in 1998 and made place for a new chance for democracy in Indonesia. Suddenly, new political parties and many new NGOs could be established to replace crusted structures. Especially the young intellectuals were forcing this process while “[t]his movement gained popular support and the success of this mass mobilization proved how significant civil society at that time was as a social movement and a political discourse, being capable of resisting the non-democratic state.” (Wiloso 2004: 89). It was a time of change and new opportunities where people would suddenly show resistance against government actions and adopt a critical attitude towards their leaders. The spokespersons of this resistance were the young and well educated, those who were better off and had access to information while also having a good socio-economic background. Yogyakarta is a city filled with young intellectuals as it is home to more than 50 Universities and about 40% of its population are students. Students’ organizations and their activists were already fighting for democracy in the 1990s and then taking a leading role in resisting the Orde Baru government. The influence of those students in NGOs is still evident as many were founding their own NGOs or starting to work for them after completing their studies instead of going for a career in politics. NGOs perform “at least two important duties on strengthening civil society: (1) to coordinate collaboration and alliances among ‘alternative social change groups’, namely those movements bound by shared values of solidarity, trust, respect and partnership, blended with progressive and innovative styles of transformational change; and (2) to expand the opportunities for cultural and organisational dialogues among local grassroots initiatives” (Lende 1995: 248). NGOs can help to strengthen the process of democratization as they usually side with other large social movements, like the environmental or the women’s movement. (Hadiwinata 2003: 36). I do not want to give a complete history on NGO development in Indonesia here, but just remark that NGOs already started to be active in Indonesia in the late 1960s but have increased in numbers in the post-Suharto era when the financial crisis in Asia called for mediators to distribute loans and grants from international agencies like the World bank, IMF, USAID and so on, to the urban and rural poor. Most NGOs in Indonesia are financed from actors outside of Indonesia. NGOs have different capacities and are either “grass root” oriented development institutions trying to reduce poverty, or are part of a social movement that challenges social and political structures that are responsible for poverty and injustice (Hadiwinata 2003:242). They can try to reach their goals via different approaches. Either they follow a ‘welfare’ approach, focussing on fundraising and service to a special group of society. Another approach is the ‘developmental’, where the focus lies on projects that have as a goal to improve the capacity of a community to provide for its own basic needs. Another way is ‘empowerment’, where NGOs try to enable communities to enter political processes that initially cause poverty (Hadiwinata 2003: 23). These distinctions concern the approaches of NGOs, but in my opinion there is also another important distinction concerning the origin of the NGO: first there are those NGOs that emerge from the grass root level itself, where those concerned with a problem syndicate and pursue their rights. These NGOs are similar to social movements but with an organisational framework. The other group of NGOs is advocating the needs of a group external to the members of the NGO and therefore becoming the organ of the poor and marginalized while consisting of members with a background different from the beneficiaries of the NGO work. Members have different reasons for the engagement in a NGO, ranging from idealism to political aspiration, depending on the situation and the individual.

Civil society is not just a place for resistance, but as I stated before, also a place of mediation, where rights also come with responsibilities. Indonesia is struggling with corruption and nepotism in this relatively new era of democracy. Non Governmental Organisations bear the chance to get rights for the citizens who then also have duties towards their government. It is interesting to notice in this context, that the Indonesian constitution is formed on the basis of a fivefold canon called Pancasila as the embodiment of basic principles of an independent Indonesian state which are the following: 1. Belief in one god 2. Just and civilized humanity, 3. The unity of Indonesia, 4 Democracy guided by wisdom in deliberations and representation, and 5. Social justice for all the people of Indonesia (Dahlan & Walean 1996). The provision of the population with clean water is in my view part of assuring just and civilized humanity as well as of social justice. The state is aware of its duty to care for clean water, but is not coping properly with this task. As the state is not fulfilling the people’s needs, they have to take measures to help themselves. Javanese culture also has a cultural concept for mutual help and assistance which has a long tradition in the natural state of village communities in Indonesia. It is the principle of gotong royong, which I will explain in the following paragraph.

2.5. The Principles of Gotong Royong and Tanggung Renteng

Let us greet the nation of Indonesia, Built up at once, Built a family that is prosperous with the PKK.

The vital Pancasila with its charity for the country. A life in mutual help, rich in food and clothing and a healthy and safe home.[5]

First verse of the PKK song

The two Indonesian expressions gotong royong and tanggung renteng stand for certain ideas of organizing tasks and responsibilities within a community. Gotong royong usually is translated as ‘mutual assistance’. But it is one of these untranslatable phrases that make it hard for outsiders to grasp the whole meaning. It describes a traditional concept every Javanese is somehow aware of and which is applied in many different settings. It is often cited and regarded as the backbone of Javanese society and referred to for activities in a village as well as in processes in a political context. According to Koentjaraningrat (1977: 22-23) we have to distinguish two different forms of activities in village life that are referred to as gotong royong: mutual aid gotong royong activities and collective work gotong royong activities and I will briefly point out what the differences are and why this is important when talking about community mobilization in a Javanese context, because it does relate to the work of modern Non Governmental Organisations on the topic of clean water. But let’s set the record straight first: Gotong royong describes the idea of mutual aid in community life and is in the first sense meant in a reciprocal way, implying that for the help provided to somebody, the person expects to get the same amount of help back at another time in the future. Especially during times of harvest “[…] ‘gotongroyong’ constitutes a system of mobilizing additional manpower from outside the family circle, in order to provide extra labour at busy periods […].” (Koentjaraningrat 1977:21). Those helping with the harvest receive nothing but lunch and the surety that the person asking for help has to return the favour to all the farmers who were asked by him at any time they are in need of his help. The introduction of money in the 19th century made such a system more impractical as it became easier to just pay agricultural workers for their services. Gotong royong as a mutual aid activity also occurs on weddings and other festivities between relatives and close neighbours. Gotong royong can also happen very spontaneously when a village member faces death or disaster and is in urgent need of help. All the above-mentioned examples fall into the category of “mutual assistance” but with the prospect of obtaining the same amount of help sometimes in the future.

The other and pretty different notion of the term denotes a system of collective work “[…] i.e. co-operative activity between a large number of community members in completing a project considered useful for the sake of the public.” (Koentjaraningrat 1977: 22). This approach of gotong royong was already used in colonial times to mobilize manpower for the colonial government’s projects and is still used now by the government as well as by NGOs to implement their projects: “The term corresponds to genuinely indigenous notions of moral obligation and generalized reciprocity, but it has been reworked by the state to become a cultural-ideological instrument for the mobilization of village labour.” (Bowen 1984: 546). In the NGO jargon ‘sustainability’, ‘local knowledge’, and ‘participatory approach’ are of great importance. Through experience they have come to realize that a project is usually doomed to failure if it is imposed on a community and implemented in a top-to-bottom way. This conviction is also present in the local NGOs in Yogyakarta and carrying out “community based projects” is the catchphrase. Unfortunately, the stimulus for such a project usually still is given by those outside the community, be it the government or local and international NGOs. Especially NGOs working with the urban poor face the challenge of working together with a community on a project that might be created on a national or international level and has to be trimmed to fit local circumstances. Many of these projects are supposed to be carried out with the help of gotong royong as an easy possibility to include the whole community and achieve the goal of community participation in the process.

A second, more rarely used expression in connection to NGO project implementation is tanggung renteng, a system that allocates the responsibility for the actions of every member of o group to the whole group: “‘Tanggung Renteng’ is a system in which every member of a group is responsible towards the others and towards everything that could bother and threaten the process and the payment of instalment from every group member.”[6] (

I think the whole term translates well with “joint liability” in the sense that the responsibility for a loan for example, is distributed among the credit users and the whole group can be held responsible if one member fails to comply with the payback guidelines. If this system is applied, it results in social monitoring: If one member of a group does not comply with an agreement, then the whole group is threatened with punishment. By adhering to tanggung renteng, a facilitator like an NGO does not have to deal with individuals who have to be convinced or monitored during the process of a project, but leaves those responsibilities to the group that is being considered as a homogenous whole. An example to get a clear picture: If one person fails to pay back a debt for a credit granted by an NGO to several individual households in one neighbourhood, the whole group of people who received credits will then be held responsible and in the worst case nobody is eligible for receiving further money in the future. So everybody has an interest in making his peers follow the rules. This creates a situation where a tragedy of the commons, with the resource of financial help by an external actor, is possible (because the free riding of the one who takes more than his allocated share gives him all the benefits and the loss is evenly distributed among the whole group. In the end it results in a complete use up of resources because there is no flow of money anymore). The tragedy can only be avoided by working together and monitoring the actions of the others. An artificial group is created by an outside actor, within which everybody suddenly has responsibilities for the other members.

The theories discussed in this chapter helped me to transfer the empirical data on a more general level and put it into line with examples on local water management throughout the world. The theory on common-pool resource management is generally applicable on limited resources that are prone to vanish while “water” is not per se a common-pool resource. It depends on how the water is processed and appropriated to be able to treat it as an object of CPR management. Those who deal with its distribution are local communities and NGOs in the framework of a national community within a state and its constitution but often also influenced by international actors like donor organisations, multinational corporations or other political actors. The operational range of NGOs with their different motives and member backgrounds is the sphere of civil society that has just gained more impact in Indonesia in recent times after the leadership of Suharto ended. In order to carry out the mostly development oriented work in local urban communities, some NGOs refer back to traditional Javanese principles, namely gotong royong and tanggung renteng. Together with the concept of Pancasila which is underlying the constitution, they give a special cultural aspect to this research, which is important to take into consideration when analyzing the situation present in the field. I will come back to these theories in the conclusions and connect them with what I will describe in the following chapter: The task of providing clean water to the urban poor.

Chapter 3 The Flow of Water: Providing Drinkable Water to the Poor

Theory can help to understand the framework of the organisation of the government, NGOs and local communities. In order to apply this theory one has to look at the realities out there. This chapter deals with the facts about drinking water, with the problems that exist throughout the world and also in Indonesia. I will narrow the focus down from the global to the local and give concrete details about the current situation in Yogyakarta as the place where the research for this thesis was carried out.

3.1. Drinking Water on a Global Scale

Global freshwater consumption raised six fold between 1900 and 1995 – more than twice the rate of population growth. About one third of the world’s population already lives in countries considered to be ‘water stressed’ – that is, where consumption exceeds 10% of total supply. If present trends continue, two out of every three people on earth will live in this condition by 2025.

Kofi Anan In: “We the Peoples”, 2000

In the year 2000, the United Nations decided on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), defining eight targets to be reached worldwide by the year 2015. Under the topic of ensuring environmental sustainability, the explicit goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was defined, but the issue of water is also related to several other points of those MDGs, like reduce child mortality or eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education (see for a detailed list of the Millennium Development Goals). In November 2002 for the first time in history, the right to water was even officially recognized as a fundamental human right: "The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient; affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses." ( ite).

The world is far from reaching these goals. The access to save and affordable drinking water in urban areas is today especially a problem for the poor, often living in slums and being turned a blind eye on when it comes down to the setting up of infrastructural facilities. There is an urgent need to research the situation of urban water supply in a balanced way, taking into account social, economic and environmental views on the topic to ameliorate the conditions and to eventually be able to reach the projected MDGs. As we see, water is becoming a scarce and already a fought over resource, as it is necessary for human survival.[7] This may sound odd at first, as general knowledge tells us that 70% of the earth is covered in water (1.38 Billion km³). But the percentage of sweet water of this water resource only reaches 3% and only about 0.3% is of use to humans, animals and plants as the rest is frozen in polar ice caps, glaciers and icebergs. The available water of around 41.000 km³ per year is exposed to severe pollution, especially in and around large human settlements. Only a fifth of all the sewage is being treated throughout the world, the largest part of it has to be mixed with huge amounts of clean water to make it ready for consumption again.

The access to drinking water and its distribution varies greatly throughout the world - on the one hand due to geographical and meteorological conditions but as well in regard to social status and wealth stratification. China for example, is home to around one quarter of the world’s population but possesses only six percent of the world’s freshwater resources. And population numbers are still rising, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America where the lack of clean water is a huge problem already now. Another factor are climatically changes and global warming, which contributes to scarcity of resources in some areas but also to too much rain in other areas which leads to natural disasters like flooding, landslides and soil erosion. These new settings do not only affect the countries of the south. In some states in the west of the United States of America people have been waiting for rain for almost ten years now. But of course the problem is more prominent in less industrialized countries where additionally to a huge water demand in overpopulated urban centres also large amounts of water are being used for irrigation purposes in rural areas. Most water that is consumed is taken from groundwater aquifers.

Rainwater is the only possibility to recharge depleted ground water reserves. The process of urbanisation cedes more and more open space to urban wasteland and thus detains the natural process of replenishing the groundwater supplies. Prospects say that by 2020 more than two billion people will be living in mega cities and urban areas, with half of them possibly in slums. In spring 2006, the World Water Forum took place for the fourth time, with a meeting of thousands of experts from the field of economy, politics and the civil society. The challenge they are facing is huge: more than one billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. More than two million children die each year because of water born diseases. In many countries, the solution to these problems has been a “Big is Beautiful” approach for years, with an emphasis on huge, ambitious and modern projects like dams and canals that were built all around the world. But the positive effect for the poor has yet to come. Usually, the beneficiaries of centralized gigantic projects are those who already could afford clean and healthy water before. There has to be a paradigm shift and the world should focus more on those who are actually in need and adjust action to local circumstances. Local knowledge has to be taken into account when realizing small scale and individual projects on a very local level. Technologies must adjust in accordance to create a more efficient use of the available water resources. On the long term this will provide every human being with a more stable and more secure environment. But these approaches are not very attractive to politicians who seek to gain political prestige by initiating huge projects. Also, small scale approaches designed for local circumstances are commercially not very attractive as they are not suitable for export in most cases.

3.2. Drinking water in Indonesia

In Indonesia, water crisis may not be a cause for water sector restructuring but merely a trigger for building an underdeveloped industry to press profit out of it.

Wermasubun 2003: 1

When thinking of the Indonesian archipelago, water problems would probably not be the first thing that comes to one’s mind. And in fact there is plenty of water, but the problem is its unevenly distribution over the many islands with varying quantities due to seasonal changes. Java is home to the highest concentration of population and industry, as approximately 60% of the whole Indonesian population resides on this island. With an area of 132.000 square km, 114 million inhabitants and 864 people per km², if it were a country, it would be the second, most densely-populated country of the world. Up to two-thirds of this population depends on groundwater for clear water, while other sources are for example rivers or the collection of rainwater (Wermasusbun 2003). Parallel to population growth and urbanization, domestic, industrial and irrigation demand of water is increasing rapidly every year. Urbanization and deforestation are a threat on water availability and, coupled with poor governance and mismanagement, affect the access to freshwater. Responsible for the provision of water in general are the regional and mostly government-owned service utilities. In recent times some of them have been sold to private enterprises with alarming results

3.2.1. The Privatization of Service Utilities in Indonesia

[…] Water belongs to all the people of Indonesia, and all the power derived from the control by the state in the forms of organization, management, supervision, and administration of water and water resources should place such a basic right of the people of Indonesia as the main right, and all arrangements should prioritize the needs of the citizens to survive and to live, with other priorities positioned below it.”

Article 33 paragraph (3) of the 1945 Constitution. In: Tumiwa 2005

In general, the regional government is the owner of most of the water service utilities, but they have their own separate budget and “develop, manage, and maintain water supply systems and serve all customer categories. The municipal water companies (PDAM), thus, enjoy relative autonomy and hold the actual monopoly of water supply in Indonesia” (Wermasubun 2003: 3). However, privatization already started. When reading about water provision problems in Indonesia one generally comes about the situation in the capital Jakarta, which is alarming. Jakarta’s water company PAM Jaya was privatised in 1997, leaving the multinationals RWE-Thames and Suez-Onedo in charge of the water supply for the Indonesian capital. Plans for the privatisation of the Jakarta water supply system still took place under the Suharto regime in the early 1990 with the result that water services in Jakarta’s rich, middle-class and industrial areas improved, but most of the poor in Jakarta still remain without piped water services (Ardhianie 2005). Further privatisation of some of the 300 PDAMs in Indonesia was planned, but the failures experienced and the serious problems the water utilities are facing put most of the interested parties off the stove. The performance of the private sector in Jakarta is pretty poor. In 2000 only 48% of the ten million Jakartans were served with piped water while the initial goal for that year had been 63% (Ardhianie 2005). The north of Jakarta has even bigger problems than the south. Large amounts of groundwater were extracted from the water-basins so that salt-water from the sea could intrude and destroyed the aquifers. This is a risk for every city in the vicinity of the sea. Corruption and intransparent management worsen the whole situation. Particularly for the poor communities in Jakarta not much has improved in the nine years of privatisation. A market has opened up, where there is an imbalance between demand and supply dehisced and water vendors, private companies and state agencies seized the opportunity to gain profit out of this situation.

This example of Jakarta shall just show how fast water can become a commodity, with its price and quality determined by market factors but also by power relationships within the society. The commodification of water and treating it as an economic good will have implications on pricing policies, environmental issues, and marginalization of the poor if no measures are taken to stick to the idea of water as a human right and public good. However, this does not mean that water has to be free of charge. Poor households are already now spending sometimes up to 20% of their household income for water purchased from private water vendors whereas those connected to the piping system rarely ever pay more than 5% of their household income (McIntosh 2003). “It has been said, that the people in Asian cities have a willingness to pay for water but governments do not have a willingness to charge” (UNDP 1999). Also, those who are not connected to the pipes have to put up with long and arduous journeys everyday to reach the nearest public water source. This implies a loss in workforce whereof mostly women as the sole responsible persons for domestic hygiene and cooking - and therefore the provision with water - are affected. An argument for why poor households are not connected to the piped system that is often cited is their unwillingness to pay for piped water. But I think the explanations above make clear that this is not the case. Of course the willingness to pay for piped water also depends greatly on alternative sources on disposition to the households, like private dug wells, nearby lakes or rain collectors. If these alternatives are easy to get and to expropriate from, then a connection to the pipe network may not be very attractive to the appropriators. But in general, charging the actual costs of water supply while connecting more households to the piping system would only be an advantage for the urban poor, as they would pay less than what they are charged by private vendors and would gain extra time for income increasing activities while receiving water of higher quality. Yet, there is little relationship between this fact and policy reforms.

Privatization is still seen as the salvation to many problems and ceasing responsibilities to private actors will disburden governments as it is supposed to bring funds into an ailing business. But the example of Jakarta shows, that efficiency gains were far below expectations and only little investment was made in the extension of existing piping. The efforts of private investor to a large extent led to serving those better, who are already connected and exclude those outside the system even further.

Knowledge of the situation is of course a key factor in improving it. But often the situation is only approached from a very technical perspective. It would be more useful to find a solution in small scale, local approaches that fit into the cultural realities. In order to achieve this, a change in policies together with educational measures has to take place. I think that, despite water being a scarce good as stated above, there are still ways for the whole population of a city to share in the available water supply if the right measures are taken. Unfortunately the state is not assuming its responsibility towards its citizens in the care of water. In the recent decades the private sector is gaining ground and the commodification of water continues.


[1] There is no clear definition of what can be considered “urban area”. It may be dependant on the number of residents, on the population density, on the percentage of people not active in agriculture or on the infrastructure and educational possibilities available. Countries differ in the way they classify population as "urban" or "rural." Typically, a community or settlement with a population of 2,000 or more is considered urban. In the United Nations Demographic Yearbook (2002) it is defined for Indonesia as “places with urban characteristics”, which is quite vague.

[2] “village” in its original meaning but also used for a district in town or a small community of houses within the boundaries of a city. For a more detailed study of the concept of kampung see the article “The kampong” (Nas, Boon, Hladka, Sudarmoko, Tampubolon In print) or in the chapter 3.3.1. on “Hygiene and Housing “ of this thesis

[3] A typical example of a public good is “news”. Everybody can have access to them but the value or content or amount does not decrease if a large number of people hear or read them.

[4] Given a set of alternative allocations and a set of individuals, a movement from one alternative allocation to another that can make at least one individual better off, without making any other individual worse off is called a Pareto improvement or Pareto optimization

[5] Marilah Hai Semua Rakyat Indonesia. Membangun Segera Membangun Keluarga yang Sejahtera

Dengan PKK. Hayati dan amalkanlah Pancasila, Untuk negera. Hidup gotong royong, makmur pangna dan sandang. Rumah sehat sentosa.

[6] Tanggung renteng adalah suatu system dimana setiap anggota harus saling bertanggung jawab terhadap segala sesuatu yang akan mengganggu dan mengancam keberlangsungan dan angsuran dari masing-masing anggota kelompok.

[7] See Maude Barlow’s 2001 book “Blue Gold: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World’s Water Supply” for a more detailed insight on the general topic


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Piped Dreams Drinking Water Urban Poor Management Common-Pool Resource Yogyakarta



Titel: Piped Dreams Drinking Water for the Urban Poor: The Management of a Common-Pool Resource in Yogyakarta