Women, Sanitation and Climate Change


“The residents were afraid when SDI came because they thought the SDIs came to our neighbourhood to displace residents, but I tried to convince them by creating a cooperative aimed at the welfare of the surrounding community”, said Efi, head of the Women of Penjaringan which was formed since 2017.

In Indonesia Jakarta, the settlement of RW 17 Kelurahan Penjaringan, North Jakarta is a very large informal settlement prone to flooding and fires. Residents living in the area from generation to generation have been pressed together with very limited access to clean water. Many still do not have toilets and defecate in the field near settlements.

SDI began work here in 2017, initiating the savings and loan activities that were the beginning of our present work. While it is still ongoing, the benefits are felt, with the number of members to date being 245 women who manage the money collection and its management and lending to meet their daily needs.


Photo credit: SPEAK Indonesia


The general strategy is to have women and communities lead a detailed information gathering process with support from professionals to have communities first understand the challenges they face to improve their habitat and protect it against increasing climate-linked calamities. However, the plan was hampered by the absence of usable land. The mothers struggled by writing to PELINDO to be allowed to use a little land to build communal toilets & septic tanks, but they did not get a permit. Their location is adjacent to the land owned by PELINDO, namely the State-Owned Enterprises Authority for Indonesian Ports.


Photo credit: SPEAK Indonesia


“I attended the Bali meeting to discuss the Sendai framework and met the women from HC and Penjaringan and VCA project staff. We learnt about each other’s context, and together we explored the difficult space of a UN meeting in which we were the only community leaders…it was a good exposure to all of us of how much work is ahead of us to make government understand we are actors in change, not beneficiaries” – Theresa head of the Philippines affiliate of SDI and SDI Board member.


By creating evidence of the urgent need for sanitation water and waste disposal and also demonstrating the active role they will play in designing the strategy and maintaining it, the Penjaringan Women & Federation seek to strengthen their demands and to negotiate and approach various parties, including the North Jakarta local government to improve their living environment.

The plans for improved habitat are a long list of actions needed. The next step to addressing climate change starts with waste management by recycling waste to be made into compost.

Their ambition is amazing! They will work with other settlements and cooperate with another settlement from other Kelurahan/villages that have succeeded in making changes. The strategy is to make change happen for themselves and inspire others to explore such possibilities instead of waiting for someone else to think about doing something!

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VCA is set to effect the amplification of locally-shaped climate action and play a pivotal role in the global climate debate. For more information about the program, our agenda and how to collaborate with us, please contact us via info@voicesforclimateaction.org.

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