My journey to Indonesia began on a red eye flight bound for Hong Kong at 12:15am on Friday, February 22nd. Two flights, multiple time zone crossings, and twenty-four hours later I arrived in Jakarta at 1:30pm local time on Saturday. After a quick taxi ride, I arrived at my hotel in Central Jakarta. I spent the next 36 hours getting acclimated to the 12-hour time zone difference, buying a local SIM card for my mobile phone, and trying some local cuisine.
On Monday morning, I was greeted in the hotel lobby by staff members of the Association of Indonesia Municipalities (APEKSI) staff members, Teguh and Devy. APEKSI is the partner organization to D.C. based International City/County Management Association (ICMA). In the morning we traveled to the city of Bogor, south of Jakarta. First, we met with I. Nyoman Suryadiputra, Head of Office of the Indonesia office for Wetlands International. Mr. Suryadiputra has decades of experience implementing wetland restoration projects by engaging local communities and enlisting their help with project implementation maintenance. He shared the innovative approaches being used to combat land subsidence and wetland loss throughout Indonesia currently and in years past. It was especially interesting to hear how grant funded restoration projects through Wetland International boosted local economies after the 2004 tsunami that devasted cities like Banda Aceh. I explained how Charles County is working to improve water quality through regulatory enforcement of environmental regulations, like the Critical Area Law, and restoration projects associated with the Watershed Protection & Restoration Program (WPRP).
We enjoyed a Balinese style seafood dish for lunch at a local restaurant, complete with a shredded coconut and carrot salad. In the afternoon, we met with local community organization, Komunitas Peduli Ciliwung Bogor (Community River Care, Ciliwung, Bogor). The Ciliwung River is a 119-kilometer long river in the northwestern region of Java where it flows through two provinces, West Java and the special region of Jakarta. We performed a site visit with the advocacy groups leadership where the Ciliwung flows under a major thoroughfare and dense residential development lines the banks on either side. Discussions were dominated by community engagement strategies like river clean-up days and social media outreach. I shared similar efforts being employed to engage Charles County citizens in protecting water quality of our streams and rivers, like the public service announcement (PSA) video campaign. The journey back to Jakarta was a typical rush hour traffic experience where motorcycles skip to the front as they zipped past our car.