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Co-creation in progress: Updates from the Welang Watershed, Indonesia

The Government of Indonesia, in partnership with the East Java Province and the Government of the Netherlands, continues to collaborate on addressing water challenges in the Welang Watershed works in East Java, Indonesia. The project began in 2020, and is currently midway through its second phase.

By engaging in a co-creation process with communities, regional experts, and provincial and local governments, the project further details priority interventions for key water challenges in the catchment area. Here are some updates on the progress.

A multi-stakeholder approach

Rapid urban and economic development in the Welang Watershed has led to numerous water-related challenges. These include erosion on slopes, sedimentation in rivers, urban flooding, and water distribution issues. Given the involvement of many stakeholders in both the problems and their solutions, the project adopts a multi-stakeholder approach, guided by three key principles:

  1. Achieving Practical Co-Creation Results: Ensuring solutions are compatible with the Indonesian water framework.
  2. Creating Replicable Solutions: Developing solutions that can be implemented without substantial external support.
  3. Mobilizing Local Resources: Fostering an environment where local resources are utilized for joint solutions.

These guiding principles are applied across both the upstream and mid-/downstream areas of the Welang River, allowing the project to tackle challenges from multiple perspectives and involve various sets of stakeholders.

Integrated focus across the catchment

Wonosari and Surorowo
In the upstream areas of the Welang River, the focus is on water resource conservation. This is achieved by introducing low-cost and low-tech soil and water conservation measures, such as gully plugs. These measures are designed to reduce runoff and soil erosion, and increase water infiltration. Project activities in the upstream areas center around the Wonosari tea plantation and the Surorowo sub-village.

At Wonosari, coordination with the tea plantation administration ensured strong support throughout the implementation phase. This collaboration resulted in the successful installation of 140 gully plugs. A month later, feedback from the tea plantation administrator confirmed that the plugs effectively mitigated runoff onto the streets after heavy rainfall.

To begin implementation in Surorowo, a collaboration agreement was needed between Perhutani, the concession permit holder, and the East Java Province, the project partner. Thanks to the strong commitment from both parties, the administrative process was completed much faster than usual. This efficiency allowed ground implementation to start in parallel, resulting in the completion of 18 gully plugs by April, with plans for more.


The active involvement of the community in the construction process sparked enthusiasm among local people. Many expressed interest in replicating similar infrastructure on their own, empowered by the realization that these initiatives can be achieved with locally available materials. Pak Imam, the manager of the tea plantation, explained: “Yes, it works. Before we implemented these gully plugs, there was usually runoff after it rained, and we couldn’t pass the small roads in the plantation.”

Additionally, in collaboration with the University of Malang, the implemented measures are being monitored to collect baseline data on runoff volume, existing gullies, sedimentation, and infiltration rates.

Sidogiri / Welang Lama

In the downstream and midstream areas of the Welang River catchment, specifically in Sidogiri and Welang Lama, significant progress is being made to address frequent flooding issues affecting local communities. A key part of this effort involved workshops with local schools to raise awareness and encourage community participation in waste management, recognizing that waste blockages are a major cause of flooding. These initiatives emerged from the initial co-creation session where stakeholders identified waste management as crucial for flood mitigation.

Collaborations with Universitas Negeri Malang, Universitas Brawijaya, and ITS Surabaya have driven progress. Students conducted detailed field surveys to understand the dynamics of flooding. This data, combined with a hydraulic assessment by the project team, formed the foundation for a co-creation workshop where stakeholders reviewed and provided feedback on proposed flood mitigation measures. This inclusive approach ensures that solutions have community support and incorporate local knowledge, paving the way for lasting impact in managing the river basin’s challenges.

Strategic alignment with ongoing NL-funded projects

One of the goals of the Welang project is to integrate and align its activities with other initiatives in the East Java region to enhance capacity-building and promote local ownership. The Welang project has partnered with the OKP tailor-made training program, designed to equip civil servants in East Java Province with essential skills for cross-sectoral collaboration and addressing water management challenges.

Additionally, the project is exploring collaboration opportunities with the Brantas River basin project, which aims to improve wastewater management. In February and March, site visits to the Brantas River were conducted to gain insights from the Brantasae application, with the aim of integrating its features into the Welang project. Brantasae is a map-based application that collects public-uploaded data on water quality, waste generation, and overall river basin issues or initiatives. It serves as a data inventory platform to support river assessment and monitoring.

Background Information:
The Dutch-Indonesian Consortium embodies a collaborative and sustainable approach to addressing Indonesia’s water challenges.
The project is facilitated by the consortium comprising three key organizations: Witteveen + Bos, Nuffic Southeast Asia, and AidEnvironment.

  • Witteveen + Bos: Leads overall project management and provides expertise in hydraulic modeling, alongside coordinating community waste management activities.
  • Nuffic Southeast Asia: Ensures the integration of co-created solutions within institutions, engaging regional experts and students in the process.
  • AidEnvironment: Facilitates community involvement and implements agricultural solutions focused on water conservation and erosion control.


Funded by Partners for Water

This project has been receiving funding by Partners for Water because we underpin the longstanding cooperation between the governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands on water management (MoU Water) and are dedicated to enhancing water security globally through enduring partnerships between local stakeholders and the Dutch water sector. By fostering knowledge exchange, promoting innovations, and advocating an integrated approach, we aim to contribute positively to water security for people, plants, and animals.

For further inquiries, please contact: Simon van Meijeren, Programme Advisor Partners for Water Indonesia.

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