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Sungai Watch: River Protection Movement

In Bali there is a community and organization to eradicate river waste called Sungai Watch. Perhaps it is not something strange or new among environmental activists, Sungai Watch is basically a community whose aim is to protect, maintain and fight for the cleanliness of rivers which is currently more focused on launching a movement on the Island of the Gods.


Starting from the fact that around 80 percent of the waste in the ocean comes from rivers, this group is trying to provide the best solution by preferring to eradicate the presence of waste, especially plastic, directly from its upstream.


The Beginning of the Sungai Watch


Sungai Watch was founded by volunteers from France who are three brothers named Garry, Kelly, and Sam Bencheghib since 2020.


Before settling and building related organizations in Bali, they had already explored and carried out various clean-up actions on rivers in a number of areas on the island of Java.


Starting from an operation to clean up plastic waste on Bali's beaches, Gary admitted that he discovered the fact that 90% of the plastic waste that appeared on beaches and the sea actually came from rivers. This reason then made them decide to shift the focus of their work to river protection.


Based on principles and understanding that the simplest way to clean the sea is to start from upstream, Sungai Watch, which was initiated by the Bencheghib brothers, finally presented an innovation in the form of a trash barrier which has proven to be effective in cleaning rivers.


In simple terms, according to the community initiators, every river flow, whether large or small, in Indonesia must actually have barriers at certain points, so that any rubbish contained in the river flow can be trapped and then managed more easily by cleaning it and identifying its handling.


In its operations, Sungai Watch is known to have approximately 55 volunteers, most of whom consist of local Balinese people. If you look at the explanation on the official website, the 55 people have their own roles, either as a river cleaning team or a sorting team that will manage the waste resulting from the cleaning.

Protect the river through the Sungai Watch movement


In 2019, he then appeared again with a movement called Sungai Watch, a program to clean and protect rivers in Bali.


Through this movement, they tested various trash barriers which are useful for preventing plastic waste from flowing into the sea. So far, they have succeeded in installing three waste barriers in various locations in Bali. For short-term targets, they want to install 25 waste barriers by the end of 2020, and 100 waste barriers by the end of 2021.


Apart from installing rubbish barriers, Gary and the volunteers also routinely carry out rubbish clean-up operations in Bali's rivers every week. The rubbish they collect is then sorted and sorted at the Sungai Watch headquarters located in Tumbakbayuh Village, Mengwi-Badung. Waste sorting is carried out as part of the River Plastic Report or plastic waste report which they will release in the near future. Each type of plastic is sorted to carry out a brand audit to see which brands or companies are the most polluting.


Gary said the bigger vision they want to achieve is to launch a platform, open source for everyone to learn about how to build their own trash barriers, so that they can be applied elsewhere in Indonesia. In this way, according to him, progress in getting out of the current plastic emergency situation can be realized more quickly.

The waste management process and the resulting impacts


Looking at the work process, from a number of trash barriers that have been installed at certain river points, the cleaning team will pick up and collect the trash that has been blocked every day.


Then the waste will go through a sorting process to be analyzed and traced to its source. This search aims to open a discussion regarding the responsibilities of the producers producing the relevant waste.


Apart from that, the sorted waste will be washed to be processed and prepared into material that is ready to be processed into a commodity. Furthermore, regarding this matter, the Sungai Watch community is known to still be carrying out various experiments so that this waste can become a valuable product.


Even though it is relatively new, as of 2021, or more precisely during the 14 months since the installation of their first waste barrier, Sungai Watch is known to have succeeded in installing 105 barriers on a number of rivers on the island of Bali.


Through this installation, they noted that they had succeeded in cleaning up more than 333 thousand kilograms of non-organic waste and 393 thousand kilograms of organic waste from rivers in Bali.


From this rubbish, they succeeded in auditing 227,842 pieces of rubbish that had been polluting the river. The purpose of the audit mentioned is that they succeeded in identifying what types of plastic products dominate river pollution, and from what large companies the waste comes from.


Based on published reports, it can be seen that the most dominant type of waste in sequence is still filled with plastic bags, product packaging wrappers, plastic sandals and rubber foam, plastic bottles, and many more.


The rubbish cleaning areas carried out by Sungai Watch are in Banyuwangi, East Java, namely Rogojampi and Bangorejo, as well as in Bali, namely in Buleleng, Gianyar, Tabanan, Badung and Denpasar.


Apart from that, they also succeeded in identifying the top 10 product origin companies that contributed the most to pollution in Bali's rivers.


Looking ahead, Sungai Watch confidently has a mission to install as many as 1,000 river barriers by 2023, and install barriers on every river in Indonesia as a whole by 2025.


"Rivers should be places for recreation, not places for dumping rubbish."


As an archipelagic country with more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia is one of the countries with the longest coastline in the world. However, Indonesia is also the second largest contributor of marine plastic in the world, according to research in the journal Science.


Additionally, East Asia is responsible for more than half of the plastic in the ocean, with the largest volumes coming from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Contact Us:


Jl. Raya Tumbakbayuh - Pererenan, Tumbak Bayuh, Kec. Mengwi, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351


Phone : 0821-4781-3821

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