Unlimited waste like an endless universe and dark black water with a pungent odor make few people want to explore this place. In the past, it had triumphed, but now, it became a threat. Welcome to Citarum River!
Nearly 30 million people in West Java depend on the Citarum River as a source of drinking water, agricultural irrigation, fish, power generation, and industrial activity. In the '70s, this river was admired by residents in the vicinity. They could catch much fish and enjoy the water serenely. But, as urbanization increases, the water quality in the Citarum River becomes more and more heavily polluted by industrial and community waste. Greenpeace stated that approximately 500 factories surround the Citarum River, and only about 20% of them are treating the waste. The rest throw waste directly into the Citarum River without any supervision and action from the government.
To raise awareness of these dangers have on human health, Gary Bencheghib and Sam Bencheghib, from Make A Change World, are doing an expedition across the Citarum River. Gary stated that trash has value, so it is not feasible to throw it straight away. The boat used in this expedition was made of 300 plastic bottles and bamboo, with a weight of 40 kilos.
On August 28, 2017, Gary invited the Avani team to paddle along with him in the Saguling Basin, which is the first basin of the Citarum River. It is the first place in the Citarum River that filters the dirt before it is filtered again in the Cirata and Jatiluhur Basin. On the way to the location, the Avani team needs to go through the community's farm first. Then, along with the rim of the basin, the piles of garbage from plastic packaging, wood, cardboard, clothes, and others have become the land on which we stand.
The water is black, the smell is stinging, and the insects kept flying around; these things did not discourage the Avani team from finishing the expedition. It was regrettable to see not only the amount of trash but also when local people burnt the garbage. How could a place that has so many values turn into a source of poison for those nearby?
Writer: Magdalena - Avani Eco