Understanding Kampung: Jakarta’s traditional village

Kampong, is recognized as an informal form of housing village situated mostly along the water edge in Jakarta. The dwellings are mostly self-constructed structures with poor water and electricity supply. Since the housings were built by the residents themselves, the buildings are not constructed to allow proper ventilation owing to low ceiling height and insufficient openings. (Evawani, 2016).

Moreover, due to lack of proper infrastructure such as piped water or sewer system, the living environment of kampong is considerably poor in terms of public hygiene. Also, chronic flooding along the coastal space continuously destroys the infrastructure and housing in kampong. Since most of kampong is built in marginal spaces in the city and the government is lack of ability to provide affordable housings for low-income households, residents of kampong also face serious issue of over-crowdedness with 2522 residents living in a hectare space in high density area (Evawani, 2016).

For decades, the local government of Jakarta tried to remove these “slum” area for better living environment of the city. However, even though endless effort of the government to “clean” the kampong, informal settlement remains there and even continuously emerges in the city, and the living environment of these area does not seem to vary as adequately as the government expected.

Although the Indonesian government perceives Kampong as illicit slum that only brings negative impact for the society, Kampong should be more considered as a traditional village instead of a “slum”. As its original meaning is “village”, kampong should be understood as a place where people live together as a community (2003, McCarthy). Although there are a lot of similarity between kampong and slum in terms of infrastructure, housing state and tenure security, kampong is rather an “unplanned settlements” (Supriatna, 2018), and thus should not be considered as a slum. Moreover, according to history, these villages were not illegally built by the low-income citizens; instead, the government highly encouraged the emergence of these informal constructions during colonial era.




  1. Evawani Ellisa. “COPING WITH CROWDING IN HIGH-DENSITY KAMPUNG HOUSING OF JAKARTA.” Archnet-IJAR10, no. 1 (2016): 195-212.
  2. McCarthy, P. (Ed.) (2003). Urban Slums Report: The Case of Jakarta, Indonesia, World-Bank.
Miller, D. (1987). Material Culture and Mass Consumption, Oxford: Blackwell.
  3. Supriatna, Andri. Analysing Land Tenure Security of Urban Kampung in Jakarta, 2018.

1 Comment on “Understanding Kampung: Jakarta’s traditional village

  1. The topic is quite interesting and you well interpreted the behind reasons of the original formulation and the forced eviction of Kampung in Jakarta. Essentially, this issue could be a legacy of Dutch colonial governance due to a series of messy and inconsiderate policies and land right regulation systems. At the beginning, government needed labor resources, thus Kampung was legal and accepted, but later when urban modernization began, it evolved into a conflict between government and lower-income residents, between urban modernization and housing inequality of local Kampung residents. It is also important to know the voice from Kampung residents in this case but not just from views of scholars. Moreover, the historical maps are needed to deepen the understanding and help imagination of local urban morphology and living situation of local residents.

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