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Vulnerable Climate

Variable climate and general climate change continues to impact all sectors of the economy, including human health and ecosystems. Dhaka, Bangladesh and Jakarta, Indonesia are two very different megacities but they also share some commonalties in their evolution and current issues with regard to vulnerability of their climates. Flooding, tropical cyclones, and low adaptive capacity threaten their existence. Dhaka is the most vulnerable city in Asia to climate change impacts due to the fact they are poorer and less developed. Jakarta is the second most vulnerable city to climate change impacts, even though it is a more developed country it faces some of the same issues as Dhaka. Changes in climate will have a huge impact on the economy of both countries, Jakarta would be effected more since Jakarta makes up a large part of Indonesia’s GDP. Dhaka and Jakarta are the capital and center of political, cultural and economic life of their countries. They are both the largest cities in their countries. The British East India Company ruled Dhaka, made infrastructure improvements such as housing, roads, and water supply to serve the city. Jakarta’s infrastructure improvements were a combination of efforts by both the Dutch and British. The infrastructure was to support a small population, and both cities have grown rapidly and infrastructure is severely lagging. Indonesia and Bangladesh are both democratic republics gaining their independence in 1945 and 1950 respectively. Dhaka is considered to be the 9th largest megacity in the world. Its population is over 13 million and growing at an estimated 4.2% a year. It is estimated that by 2025 the population will be 25 million, this will create a severe burden on the ecosystem and infrastructure. “Dhaka’s population is growing at one of the fastest rates in Asia” (Mega-Stress for Mega-Cities, P.11). According to up to 25% of the population live in various shantytowns along railroads, streams, lakes and ponds. Population density in the slums is 2.5 million per a square mile. The literacy rate was estimated at 62.3% in 2001; in 2010 it was estimated to be 72.7%. This shows that the literacy rate is growing as more efforts are taken to educate the population. Most residents in Dhaka speak Bengali. Jakarta has a population of 9.1 million and another 18 million in the surrounding suburbs. It is the 6th largest city in the world. Population density is 39,735 per square mile. Jakarta is 3 times as dense as the Los Angeles urban area. Dhaka on the other hand is 4 times as dense as Jakarta. Literacy rate in Jakarta is 90.4%, which is much higher then that of Dhaka due to the fact that Jakarta is more developed and their education system is much more developed. The World Bank estimates the annual per capita income to be $550 and $3,000 respectively for Dhaka and Jakarta. Jakarta contributes about 17% toward the national GDP. Trading, manufacturing, tourism are significant areas for the economy. Manufacturing sector includes automotive, electronics, chemicals and various other industries. Jakarta’s economy is more technical in the fact that they deal with more high-end electronics and manufacturing. According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, Jakarta has an annual GDP of $92 million. PWC estimates Dhaka’s annual GDP to be $78 Million. Dhaka’s economy is manufacturing based primarily on processing and producing leather goods and apparel. A high level of the employment is in the informal sector; this figure is decreasing as the literacy rate in Dhaka increase. Jakarta has a more advanced economy in comparison to Dhaka. The table below shows comparison between the two cities.

Both cities face similar environmental stress issues, such as flooding, slums, deteriorating infrastructure, pollution and lack of resources. Dhaka is worse off due to the fact it’s economy is not as developed as Jakarta’s. Dhaka is known as the rickshaw capital of the world, over 400,000 run each day. These rickshaws contribute to the congestion and pollution in the city. Dhaka has made little effort to improve living conditions that would reduce the environmental stress. Jakarta has developed monorails, railways and has implemented policies such as prohibiting less than three passengers per car on certain city roads. Both cities lack mass transit options inside the main sectors of the cities. Both cities are predominately Muslim. Indonesia is also the most populous Muslim country in the world. Migrants to both cities maintain their ethnic identities and can be seen by the food, music and entertainment in the cities.

The environmental issues faced by both cities have led to increased volatility in climate change. On a climate vulnerability scale (Shown above) of 1-10 Dhaka scores a 9 and Jakarta scores an 8. Dhaka has seen increased warming, Sea-level rise, storm surge, and flooding are the biggest threats to Dhaka (Mega Cities Report, P11). Dhaka ranks as the most vulnerable city to climate change. Rising sea level will have an impact on freshwater supply. Climate change projections suggest, “product of rice and wheat might drop by 8% and 32%, respectively” (Mega Cities Report, P11). This will severely hurt the economy and increase the poverty rates even higher. Lack of food supply will cause starvation and cause more deaths in a city that has one of the highest death rates in Asia. Floods have been also increasing in recent years. These floods tend to destroy the ecosystem and lead to soil degradation, erosion, pollution and diseases. Bangladesh is a poor country will not be able to deal with climate impacts. They need help to control pollution, create more sustainable economy and develop systems to protect against floods, and extreme weather events. Jakarta has seen a decrease in overall precipitation over the last century and the climate has shifted to more rain in the wet season and less rain in the dry season. Such climate change will impact Jakarta. Jakarta is at risk to droughts, floods, and landslides. Major floods will cause severe damage to infrastructure. Major flood events in 1996 and 2007 submerged 5,000 hectares of land, damage estimated to be at US$572 million (Mega Cities Report), almost 70% of Jakarta was flooded at this time. Jakarta does have an advantage to control climate variability impacts due to their advanced economy. They are working to do more sustainable management of coastal areas to provide protection against floods and storm surges. The poor for both cities will be the most heavily impacted, both cities needs to work to ensure to reduce pollution and protect its most vulnerable citizens. In conclusion both cities are faced with continued climate change issues that will affect the economy, the health of residents and erosion of land. Dhaka is at more risk the Jakarta due to their level of development and low adaptive capacity. The threat is severe to Jakarta but with their developed economy and adaptive capacity they should be able to utilize their resources to reduce the impacts of climate change. Both cities have had very similar beginnings and face very similar futures if nothing is done about climate change. The threat is real and the cities are onboard and have joined the C40 group which is a group of cities that are joining forces to battle climate change.

Dhaka. (n.d.). In New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
Jakarta. (n.d.). In New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
McCarthy, Paul. (2003). Jakarta, Indonesia. UN-Habitat. Retrieved from
The World Fact Book. (2011). In CIA Database Online. Retrieved from
Mega Cities Report, (n.d.) retrieved from
Cox, Wendell (2009), The Draw of Dhaka, retrieved from…...

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