If you look at the 1985 Landsat satellite image, the village was 2 kilometers from the nearest beach. Now, the sea has reached Salam\'s backyard.
M PUTERI ROSALINA/ALBERTUS KRISNA/SATRIO PANGARSO WISANGGEN
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Near the main road of Kampung Beting, Pantai Bahagia village, Muara Gembong in West Java’s Bekasi regency, is the house of 76-year-old Salam.
But Salam is not a resident of Kampung Beting. Together with his wife, Ocah, Salam is the last resident of Enclek village, which has begun to sink and disappear. “There used to be 11 houses. Now, there is only one left,” Salam said, pointing to the former foundations of his neighbor\'s houses when visited at the end of July.
Salam has lived in Enclek village for 41 years. He has really felt the changes that have occurred in Muara Gembong during the past several years. The seawater is encroaching further inland and has covered many ponds.
There used to be 11 houses. Now, there is only one left.
If you look at the 1985 Landsat satellite image, the village was 2 kilometers from the nearest beach. Now, the sea has reached Salam\'s backyard. It is no exaggeration to say that the boats used by residents to fish are now parked there.
As soon as the tide comes, if Salam wants to sleep, he has to go up on a small stage or “bale” in his house so that it does not get flooded. The wet mattress has to be dried after several days of high tides.
Salam is a witness to the rising sea level, which has not only driven people out of their homes, but also disrupted economic activities. In the past, when there were many shrimp ponds, he could harvest 150 kilograms of shrimp overnight. Now, after acres of ponds have sunk, he just waits for orders to do odd jobs while looking for feed for his goats.
"Yes, there is joy, and maybe, there is also sorrow," he said. There is greater financial pressure on Salam\'s younger neighbors. Tarjo (40), for example, said that when there was high tide and tidal flood, he got less income. He could not even afford the cost of fuel and supplies. In normal times, fishermen can make a profit of up to Rp 300,000 every night.
"But, if there is a flood, many don\'t go to the sea," said Taufik (46), another fisherman from Pantai Bahagia village. If you don\'t go to the sea, automatically there will be no income for your family.”
Whether it is because houses continue to be submerged or income from the sea continues to decline, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data show that the current population of Pantai Bahagia village has significantly decreased since 2014. Seven years ago, the population was 8,166. Based on data in 2019, the population had decreased by almost 20 percent, to only 6,166.
The discomfort of living in Enclek village is also reflected in Salam\'s four children. Two of his four children moved to Bekasi and Jakarta, the rest live in other villages. "I don\'t feel at home," said Salam.
Munarto (50), a resident of Muara Angke, Pluit, North Jakarta, also experienced the harsh impact of the sea level rise on his financial condition. The Muara Angke residents said they had to be rich in order to survive amid the tidal floods that now occur every day.
The extreme land subsidence has forced the residents to continuously raise the floor of their houses. If it is too close to the ceiling, the house must be demolished and then built higher. Munarto said, every five years, the floor must be raised by 1 meter. The ceiling of Munarto\'s house, which was recently renovated, is almost 4 meters above the floor. It is possible for Munarto to raise the floor one or two more times. "Perhaps Jakarta will sink in tens of years. But I believe, Muara Angke will not sink, because we keep piling up our house, ha-ha-ha," said Munarto, laughing.
Sea level rise
Anything that can help the people here is welcome. We already have a leader and our lives should not be just left like this.
The future of Indonesia\'s coastal communities may be similar to what is currently experienced by Salam and Munarto. Global sea level rise due to climate change and land subsidence, especially in big cities, will pose a greater threat of tidal flooding to residents.
Therefore, the government needs to find its solution, not only to for the coastal communities but also for the children and grandchildren of the Indonesian nation in the next 30-80 years. The solution is not only to cope with rising sea levels, such as the construction of embankments, polders, or mangrove restoration, but also to reduce land subsidence.
"Anything that can help the people here is welcome. We already have a leader and our lives should not be just left like this," said Salam, the last resident of Enclek village.