flood Sentani
YPKP Sentani housing complex in Jayapura Regency. The neighborhood was flooded on Feb. 3, 2021. Credit: Jubi/Yance Wenda.

Jayapura flood victims: Fix water management, halt environmental damage

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West Papua No. 1 News Portal | Jubi

 

Jayapura, Jubi – Flood victims and an environmental activist in Sentani in Jayapura Regency, West Papua, have identified that poor water management in the area and environmental damage in the regency’s water retention area, the Cycloop Hill.

Thomas Kogoya, a resident of BTN Yahim Gajah Mada, blamed the poor water management in the area. “I demand the respective agency to improve the water management, so we don’t get flooded,” he said on Feb. 4.

 

Read also: 80 candles lit to commemorate one-year of Sentani flash flood

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On Feb. 3 and 4, several houses had been inundated by flood water following a heavy rain for three days straight. In BTN Yahim Gajah Mada housing area in Sentani, the water on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at night could reach as high as the knees of an adult. The water had yet to recede the following morning.

 

“Rain has poured in the past three days here in BTN Gajah Mada. Water inundated the complex on Wednesday night and it has yet to recede now,” Rosita, one of the flood victims, told Jubi on Feb. 4.

 

Rosita and her neighbors, however, did not leave their houses despite the flood. “We don’t know where else to go,” she said. She and her family could not save all her belongings, she said.

 

Read also: Tracing the flooding trail in Kali Kemiri, Sentani

 

Rosita said her neighborhood was lower than the others, and water from higher areas was halted in BTN Yahim Gajah Mada.

 

Kogoya said his family could not sleep at night because they anticipated more flood on Feb. 4.

 

Another neighborhood, YPKP Sentani, also got flooded on Wednesday night. The residents complained about the condition of the drainage, which they said got covered by buildings. The drainage in the housing complex was indeed narrow and not deep enough.

 

Read also: Accelerating rescue operations in flood-hit Sentani

 

A YPKP Sentani resident, Paulina Yakadewa, said the water came suddenly. “I was surprised to find that the water had entered our house. The current was fast. The inundation reached as high as an adult’s knees,” she said.

 

Her family took shelter at their relative’s house, she said.

 

“Our stove was carried away by the water until it went outside our house,” she said.

 

Yakadewa said there was a creek in the neighborhood but it was covered with buildings now. She said the water tried to find its way on the creek but it could not find the creek so it “hit” the houses.

 

She said residents had talked about water management improvement with the local leaders but nothing happened.

 

Another resident, Titin, said she wanted Jayapura administration to improve the water management. She said she also experienced the flash flood on March 16, 2019.

 

Some environmental activists blamed the Sentani flash flood in March 2019 and the recent flood on the damage in Cycloop Natural Reserve, or also called Cycloop Hill.

 

Read also : Papua death toll rises, more than 6000 evacuated after Sentani floods

 

Manasse Bernard Taime, the head of Youths Care for the Environment in the regency, said on Feb. 3 that his group had checked the condition of the natural reserve and found it “severely damaged”.

 

“On the low plain of Robonghollo Mountain, there were no trees anymore,” he said.

 

He said the volunteers found indications of landslides there and also felled trees. The landslides happened in 2019 during the flashflood and the remnants were still there when they visited the reserve recently.

 

He said Cycloop had an important role in the prosperity of Jayapura residents. It acted as both water source and water retention.

 

Taime said he had spoken with religious and indigenous figures to campaign for the Cycloop’s sustainability. But he said residents still violated regulations and did not protect the natural reserve. He criticized the administration for turning a blind eye toward the alleged violations.

 

Papua Forestry and Environment Agency head, Jan Jap Ormusera, said the the management of Cycloop fell into the jurisdiction of the central government, in particular under Papua Natural Resources Conservation Agency, which is under the coordination of the Forestry and Environment Ministry.

 

“Referring to Law No. 5/1990 on Conservation of Natural Resources and the Ecosystem, 31,000 hectares of Cycloop Natural Reserve, falls under central government jurisdiction. The Papua province administration only handles the 9,000 hectares of the Cycloop’s buffer areas, spanning across Jayapura regency and municipality,” he said.

 

BKSDA Papua head, Edward Sembiring, said that a joint team had inspected four rivers that began in Cycloop Natural Reserve: Harapan Creek, Eboy Creek, Taruna Creek, and Nauli Creek.

 

“So far we saw the the condition was safe, so we announce to residents in Jayapura municipality and regency to be alert but not worried too much,” he said as quoted by Forestry and Environment Ministry website on Feb. 4.

 

Sembiring said his team would inspect the rivers again on Feb. 6, using drone, to anticipate whether the residents had to prepare for flash flood or not.

 

Reporter: Yance Wenda

 

 

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