The 'Negotiated Approach' in Indonesia


In spite of its abundant water resources, Indonesia faces a water crisis due to poor management and a lack of community participation, law enforcement, and integrated planning. This leads to water pollution, water shortage, and increased damage from disasters, excessive forest conversion and river bank degradation, biodiversity extinction, uncontrolled mining, etc. The Negotiated Approach in Indonesia aims to enable local environmental NGOs to become well informed, professional organizations that are able to bridge the gap between local community concerns and initiatives and plans and policies that are often formulated behind desks in formal offices.


Working with riverine communities in Indonesia

Our work in Indonesia has a twofold focus:


1) Empower local communities and their representative NGOs to address community concerns in water management in (sub) river basins.

Part of the Negotiated Approach is capacity building for local NGOs, often activist grassroots groups, and other actors in:

-      Livelihoods and activity analysis (trends in harvests per year, fish catch per year, etc., income from other activities), including inequality within communities

-      Institutional and legal analysis for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM): to place community livelihoods within the context of IWRM policies and decisions

-      Identifying solutions where local communities, government and private sector cooperate to improve community health and income, for example by developing drinking water and sanitation projects.


2) Water governance and the institutional side of water. River basins and catchment areas are part of the political and legislative domain.

Part of the NA is to assess:

-      If safeguards for human rights are in place

-      If mechanisms for fair play and equity in the distribution of benefits, sharing costs and social-economical burdens are put in place

-      If institutions and regulations are in place that facilitate community involvement in water resources management

-      The administrative and other strengths of local institutions



map indonesia


IndoWaterCoP – a lobby and advocacy platform

To address the Indonesian water crisis, Both ENDS and 4 Indonesian civil society initiated IndoWater Community of Practice on December 3rd 2014. IndoWaterCoP is born out of concern that implementation of Indonesian water resource management is failing and aims to assist Indonesian government to improve its performance.  Shortcomings identified are, amongst others: top-down implementation; lack of community involvement, mechanisms to safeguard community rights, transparency and coordination among institutions.


On 19 February 2015, Water Law no 7/2004 was annulled because it prioritizes private corporate interests vs. community interests, which conflicts with the Constitution. Law No. 7 was based on an IWRM approach and included possibilities for increased community involvement. Currently, a new Water law is being developed. This provides an ideal stage for NGO lobby and advocacy for: 1) real community involvement by advocating for  a) taking decisions in water management by consensus at the lowest appropriate level, and b) implementation of the basic right to water, food and health; 2) maintaining the integrity and resilience of ecosystems, and 3) promoting transparency and accountability


Lobby and advocacy in NL

The Dutch water sector is very active in Indonesia. The Dutch government is historically involved in shaping the institutional framework for water management in Indonesia. Indonesia is a transition country in Dutch ODA: from an OS country to a trading partner. Dutch ODA and expertise is involved in the reform of the water sector, the revisions of the abovementioned new water law, and private sector development projects such as the development of ports and coastal protection projects.


Both ENDS and IndoWaterCoP call upon Dutch government to

1) support NGO initiatives that:

-      Strengthen communities in asserting their basic right to water, food and clean environment (incl. health)

-      enable communities to negotiate their interests and create an enabling environment for community participation

2) adhere to its socio-environmental standards in its water, health and food  related policies

3) acknowledge the role of NGOs in monitoring social and environmentally sound Dutch private sector projects in Indonesia (PPPs; ECA’s, trade missions) and their adherence to Dutch and international socio-environmental standards (CSR policies, OECD standards, EIA, RSPO)



Ecosystems Alliance

World Bank (Jakarta office)


Community of Change Alliance


Christa Nooy Senior Program Officer Water and Indonesia Specialist



Recently partner organization Ecoton launched a multi-stakeholder agreement to support the establishment of a fish sanctuary area in the Surabaya River, East-Java.


For more information you can read this document.


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