Project description

Since 10 years ago, Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia, had been identified as the world’s most polluted river. "Is this the world’s most polluted river?" The Daily Mail wrote on a Wednesday edition in 2007 (14/2).Kompas Daily, both in print and online, were moved to recover the condition of Citarum according to our competence. We want Citarum to be clean. Especially because during our daily coverage Kompas reporters discovered tens of millions of people suffering from the contaminated river. One of our efforts is creating an article in the form of data visualization. Why did Kompas choose to use data visualization? The reason is to facilitate all readers in understanding Citarum from the side of civilization, evolution, as well as presenting them with the latest data on the river’s recent disasters, its infrastructure, and its future. The project is not only in the form of text or data visualization but also a wealth of photos and videos. All photos comes from Kompas Daily’s archive collected from 1965. With the collection of old photos, readers are expected to be more understanding and ultimately moved to help Citarum. All efforts in this project are fully funded by Kompas Daily. Once more, it’s our effort to restore Citarum. In the future, Kompas plans to disseminate the result of this project to schools as lesson materials. Recently, an agreement between Kompas and The Indonesian Teachers Association formally enabled this to happen ( Thus, from an early age, children are taught to understand the calamity of Citarum so as to take care of Citarum. Restoring Citarum is impossible through picking up its wastes but through building a culture to discourage the public from disposing waste on the river. This takes time. However, we believe by providing an accurate and lasting impression on the readers’ mind, we can be impactful in initiating change.

What makes this project innovative?

For the first time, the project explored the entire Citarum issue in an article from every side. All maps are displayed interactively, especially in the infrastructure segment. Thus, people can understand what infrastructure has been built, and help to safeguard it. For the sake of agriculture, for fisheries, and the continuity of power supplies.Typically, Daily Kompas only displays texts with photos. However, this time the text is displayed plus Citarum-related photos from the archives and videos. All photos are produced by Kompas journalists from time to time. In fact, Kompas also compared old photos and new photos to show the area around the Citarum in flood and dry conditions as the amplifier of Citarum story. The goal of data visualization is not only to make it easier in understanding the problem and finding solutions, but also to attract the attention of millennials and even the younger generations. Because, it requires work across generations to restore a river the size of Citarum.Statistics also displayed interactively with the content that predicts population spikes in the Citarum watershed. Without the restoring of Citarum, a minimum of 25.7 million people in 2035 will suffer caused by Citarum.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

The coverage of Kompas related to Citarum has always been the government's attention. On Thursday, January 4, 2018, Kompas and (Kompas's online version) daily reported on Citarum contamination. Then, on Friday, January 12, 2018, private and military entrepreneurs met to formulate aid for Citarum. The climax, on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the President led a limited meeting in Bandung, the main city on the banks of Citarum for the sake of Citarum's rescue. News coverage with data that have a strong influence to recover the Citarum was collected in this project. Kompas, which has an MoU with the Indonesian Teachers Association (with members of three million teachers) will disseminate the project to school-age children.Of course, through the social media department, this project will also be disseminated to the public.

Source and methodology

River Citarum data come from the government and NGO's. Such as Ministry of Public Works, Ministry Industry, Citarum River Basin Organization, and West Java Province.Research and Development Departement at Kompas collected data from every office then analysed and provided it into visual data. We also read news and feature about Citarum from Kompas database before wrote it into a story. All photos also comes from Kompas Daily’s archive collected from 1965.

Technologies Used

The website was built from scratch using HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP, independent from the main site which uses a CMS. Since we aimed to create a highly interactive feature, building the site from scratch provided the flexibility that we needed.Several Javascript libraries were used to add interactivity, such as swiper.js and for the animated map, however most other interactions were coded in-house. Highcharts was used to create the interactive infographics.Data for the graphics were collected and analysed manually by our research and development staff from government agencies and corresponding institutions. Since there were no massively collected data from the government, analysing the data used simple statistics and visualizing the data were done using Microsoft Excel, Highcharts or Adobe Illustrator.Video contents were shot on Sony mirrorless cameras and edited using Final Cut Pro.

Project members

Writer: Haryo Damardono; Producer: Haryo Damardono, Septa Inigopatria Gunarso, Prasetyo Eko Prihananto; Web developers: Deny Ramanda, Vandy Vicario, Rafni Amanda


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