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A young girl plays during a tidal flood at Muara Angke Port in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP/Tatan Syuflana)

A young girl plays during a tidal flood at Muara Angke Port in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP/Tatan Syuflana)

A military truck drives through water on a flooded toll road following heavy rains in Jakarta. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

A military truck drives through water on a flooded toll road following heavy rains in Jakarta. (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Workers build a wall to be used as a barrier to prevent sea water from flowing onto land and cause flooding in Jakarta. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)

Workers build a wall to be used as a barrier to prevent sea water from flowing onto land and cause flooding in Jakarta. (AP/Achmad Ibrahim)

A woman walks in the main business district in Jakarta. (AP/Tatan Syuflana)

A woman walks in the main business district in Jakarta. (AP/Tatan Syuflana)

High rise buildings in the main business district in Jakarta (AP/Dita Alangkara)

High rise buildings in the main business district in Jakarta (AP/Dita Alangkara)

Water, Water Everywhere . . . but Not a Drop To Drink

Posted: March 1, 2022

Indonesia is a nation made of more than 17,000 islands. More than half of Indonesians dwell on only one of these: Java. The capital, Jakarta, sits on that island too. The city is sinking into the Java Sea.

There are cities . . . and then there are mega-cities like Jakarta. As the Indonesian economy grows, so does this city of over 10 million people. All those people need water to drink—and that is the reason Jakarta is sinking. Its people don’t have enough drinking water.

Jakarta does not have a good water system. Water pipes reach people only in certain parts of town. Everyone else has to drill wells. And that’s a problem. Jakarta doesn’t have enough space for all the wells needed. As so many people drill down, the ground around the wells starts to sink in on itself.

People in Jakarta feel trapped. Many are fishermen. They need to live near water . . . but they don’t need it flooding their houses. In some places, the island might sink between four and 10 inches each year. Imagine: You’re a fisherman. Your house floods. You have to rebuild. Next year, it floods again. Eventually, you give up your house altogether and just live in your boat.

Other nations have moved their capital cities too. Pakistan switched its capital from crowded Karachi to Islamabad. Brazil gave its old capital a new start by moving from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia. Myanmar relocated its capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw. A capital move can help when a city grows too big for the place it was founded.

Will that be the case in Indonesia? Maybe for some people. But not everyone—or even most everyone—will be able to move to Borneo. What about those left behind in Jakarta?

Every earthly city has problems. City planners need wisdom to design spaces that serve everyone. Did you know that God has promised us a city in the new heavens and new Earth where everything is perfect? God is the planner of this good city, and it will never sink!

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. — Hebrews 13:14