Two days of heavy rains have caused flooding in parts of Jakarta, Indonesia, causing 100 000 people to evacuate to higher ground.

Reports from the area show the government struggling to get food and water supplies to those evacuated.

Although flooding has occurred before in the area, it has been made worse with increase in local construction, that has destroyed the normal drainage systems of some neighborhoods, and has denuded trees and vegetation that would help absorb the rain. Much of the newer areas of construction are on land that once was rain forest and lakes, or rice paddies that are carefully irrigated and drained, or even in what was once the water containment areas.
The original Dutch city was built on marshlands, and (like New Orleans) parts of the city are below sea leve. 78 percent of the land in Jakarta is in a flood hazard zone, and during certain tide conditions even normal drainage is slow. And, as the Asian Times points out, rampant corruption and inadequate government planning to prevent the flooding has contributed to this all too common problem in that city.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines with her husband. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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