Analyzing Risk and Disaster in Megaurban Systems – Experiences from Mumbai and Jakarta

Gerrit Peters, Carsten Butsch, Franziska Krachten, Frauke Kraas, Sridharan Namperumal, Muh Aris Marfai


The inherent qualities of megacities call for specific risk analysis and specific strategies and capabilities in megaurban risk and disaster management. As megaurbanization proceeds at a hitherto unprecedented pace, the vulnerability of the world’s largest metropolises and the risk accumulated in them is gradually being understood. However, megaurban risk and disaster management are yet to be developed and established as full-fledged concepts. Thus far, empirically based knowledge and tools are scarce. The framework we introduce allows for an analytical approach to megaurban risk and disaster based on a systemic understanding of megacities as complex adaptive systems (CAS). Implications of our conceptualization are discussed using findings of empirical research on flooding in Mumbai/India and Jakarta/Indonesia. The application of the framework illustrates its  potential for an improved understanding of root causes and effects of megaurban risk and disaster, amplifying factors that increase the impact of megaurban disasters and secondary risks that occur in the aftermaths of megaurban disasters. At the same time the CAS-framework allows for identifying options available for dealing with risk and disasters.


Risk; Disaster; Megacities; Urban; Systems Theory; Vulnerability; Resilience; Mumbai; Jakarta;

Full Text:



Abidin, H. Z, Andreas, H., Gumilar, I., Gamal, M., Fukuda, Y. and Deguchi, T. (2009): Land Subsidence and Urban Development in Jakarta (Indonesia). 7th FIG Regional Conference, Spatial Data Serving People: Land Governance and the Environment, Hanoi, Vietnam: 19-22 October 2009.

Ahmed, S. U. (2005): Impact of banning polythene bags on floods of Dhaka City by applying CVM and remote sensing, Environmental Health Perspectives, 111 (4): 1471-1474.

Alexander, D. (2002): Principles of emergency planning and management, New York: Oxford University Press.

Badan Pusat Statistik (2013): Proyeksi Penduduk Indonesia 2010-2035, Jakarta: Badan Pusat Statistik.

Batty, M. (2011): Building a science of cities. UCL Working Papers Series No. 70, London: UCL.

Bohle, H.-G. (1994): Metropolitan Food Systems in Developing Countries: The Perspective of "Urban Me-tabolism", GeoJournal, 34 (3): 245 – 251.

Cybriwsky, R. and Ford, L. R. (2001): City profile – Jakarta, Cities, 18 (3): 199-210.

Dartmouth Flood Observatory (2008): 2007 Global Register of Major Flood Events, URL = (11 November 2013)

De Sherbinin, A., Schiller, A. and Pulsipher, A. (2007): The vulnerability of global cities to climate hazards, Environment & Urbanization, 19 (1): 39-64.

Egner, H., Ratter, B. M. W. and Dikau, R. (eds.) (2008): Umwelt als System – System als Umwelt? Sys-temtheorien auf dem Prüfstand, München: Ökom.

Ellenrieder, T. (2006): Überschwemmungen in Mumbai, in: Münchener Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft (ed.): Topics Geo. Jahresrückblick Naturkatastrophen 2005, München: Münchner Rückversicherungs-Gesellschaft.

Felgentreff, C. and Glade, T. (eds.) (2008): Naturrisiken und Sozialkatastrophen. Heidelberg: Spektrum.

Government of Maharashtra (2006a): Fact Finding Committee on Mumbai Floods. Final Report. Volume I, Mumbai: Government of Maharashtra.

Government of Maharashtra (2006b): Fact Finding Committee on Mumbai Floods. Final Report. Volume II, Mumbai: Government of Maharashtra.

Gupta, K. (2009): Mitigation urban flood disasters in India, in: Feyen, J., Schannon, K. and Neville, M. (eds.), Water and Urban Development Paradigms - Towards an Integration of Engineering, Design and Management Approaches. Leiden: CRC PRESS-Taylor & Francis Group.

Hindustan Times (22.05.2010): „No space for nullah silt“.

IPCC (2013): Summary for Policymakers, in: Stocker, T. F., Qin, D., Plattner, G.-K., Tignor, M., Allen, S. K., Boschung, J., Nauels, A., Xia, Y., Bex, V. and Midgley, P. M. (eds.), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Irsyam, M., Dangkua, D. T. and Hendryawan, K. (2008): Proposed seismic hazard maps of Sumatra and Java islands and microzonation study of Jakarta city, Indonesia, Journal of Earth System Science, 117 (2): 865-878.

Kauffman, S. A. (1990): The Sciences of Complexity and "Origins of Order", Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, (2): 299-322.

Kraas, F. (2012): Das Hochwasser 2011 in Bangkok, Geographische Rundschau, 64 (1): 58-61.

Kraas, F. (2003): Megacities as global risk areas, Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen, 147 (4): 6-15.

Luhmann, N. (1984): Soziale Systeme: Grundriss einer allgemeinen Theorie, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp.

Ooi, G. L. (2008): Cities and sustainability: Southeast Asian and European perspectives, Asia Europe Journal, 6 (2): 193-2004.

Parsons, T. (1951): The social system, New York: Glencoe.

Portugali, J. (2011): Complexity, Cognition and the City, Heidelberg: Springer.

Ratter, B. and Treiling, T. (2008): Komplexität – oder was bedeuten die Pfeile zwischen den Kästchen? In: Egner, H., Ratter, B. and Dikau, R. (eds.): Umwelt als System – System als Umwelt?, München: 23 – 38.

Revi, A. (2008): Climate change risk: An adaption and mitigation agenda for Indian cities, Environment & Urbanization, 20 (1): 207-229.

Seiffert, H. (2003): Einführung in die Wissenschaftstheorie. Band 1 und Band 2, München: Beck.

Simon, F. (2006): Einführung in die Systemtheorie und Konstruktivismus, Heidelberg: Carl-Auer Verlag.

Swiss Re (2013): Mind the Risk – a global ranking of cities under threat from natural disasters, Zürich: Swiss Re.

Taleb, N. N. (2007): The Black Swan. The impact of the highly improbable, New York: Random House.

UNDESA (2014): World Urbanization Prospects. The 2014 Revision. Highlights, New York: United Nations.

UNDESA (2012): World Urbanization Prospect: The 2011 Revision. Online Data: Country Profiles, URL = (01 May 2012).

UNISDR (2009): UNISDR Terminology on disaster risk reduction, Geneva: UNISDR.

Vijay, V., Biradar, B. S., Inamdar, A. B., Deshmukhe, G., Baji, S. and Pikle, M. (2005): Mangrove mapping and change detection around Mumbai (Bombay) using remotely sensed data, Indian Journal of Marine Sciences, 34 (3): 310-315.

WHO (2007): Floods in Jakarta, Banten, and West Java Province, Republic of Indonesia. Emergency Situa-tion Report #6, URL = (03 September 2011)

Wirth, E. (1979): Theoretische Geographie, Stuttgart: Teubner.

Wisner, B. (2007): Regions at risk or people at risk?, Geographische Rundschau, 59 (10): 12-18.

Wolman, A. (1965): The Metabolism of Cities, Scientific American, 213: 179-190.

Zaenuddin H. M. (2013): Jakarta Floods from Period of General JP Coen (1621) to Governor Jokowi (2013). Jakarta: Change Publisher.