The settlement along the bank of the Code River in Yogyakarta, Indonesia provides housing for a large mass of the city's poor. Its strategic location and the fact that most urban poor do not have access to land, attracts people to “illegally” settle along the bank of the river. This brings negative consequences for the environment, particularly the increasing domestic waste along the river and the annual flooding in the rainy season. While the public controversies regarding the existence of the settlement along the Code River were still not resolved, at the end of the 1980s, a group of architects, academics and community members proposed the idea of constructing a dike along the River as part of a broader settlement improvement program.

From 1991 to 1998, thousands of local people mobilized their resources and were able to construct 6,000 metres of riverside dike along the Code River. The construction of the riverside dike along the River has become an important “stimulant” that generated not only settlement improvement, but also a better treatment of river water. As all housing units located along the River are now facing the River, the River itself is considered the “front-yard”. Before the dike was constructed, the inhabitants used to treat the River as the “backyard” and therefore just throw waste into the River. They now really want to have a cleaner river, since the River is an important part of their settlement.

The settlement along the Code River presents a complex range of persistent problems with informal settlements in Indonesia; such problems are related to the issues of how to provide more affordable and adequate housing for the poor, while at the same time, to improve the water quality of the river. The project represents a good case, which shows that through a mutual partnership among stakeholders, it is possible to integrate environmental goals into urban redevelopment schemes.

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