Cleaning Up The River: How Cibarani Village Empowers Its Community

12 June 2024

By Dia Marganita

Kampung Cibarani is a local community in Bandung, Indonesia, that advocates for river preservation through education and community empowerment programs.

Rivers have been a crucial source of livelihood, providing water and irrigation to both urban and rural areas. Yet, many rivers have become polluted due to human activities, and Indonesia’s rivers are no exception.

Citarum River—the longest and largest river in West Java—is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, due to its surrounding urban and industrial activities. The pollution has devastated the river ecosystem so much that people have not seen any fish for years. 

A man pushes his boat filled with recyclable plastic from the Citarum River. Photos courtesy of Larry C. Price.

Many villages and cities already felt the impact of its pollution, including Cibarani Village. Living beside the Cikapundung River—a tributary of the Citarum River—Cibarani Village carries out its daily activities as usual, initially ignorant of the Citarum River’s pollution problem. 

Although Cibarani Village is a densely populated settlement, it has limited accessibility. The villagers must climb hundreds of stairs to reach the main roads where municipal waste bins are located. Due to this inconvenience, some take shortcuts by throwing their household waste into the river, contributing to the pollution of the Cikapundung River and, eventually, the Citarum River.  

This has continued until recently, when the community finds it hard to access clean underground water, especially during dry seasons.

Introducing Kampung Cibarani

Irsan, a young villager from Cibarani Village is well aware of the river pollution problem and the villagers’ lack of access to handling their waste. Hoping to see a positive change in his surroundings, he and his friends established the Cibarani Village Creative Community Association (or Perkumpulan Masyarakat Kreatif Kampoeng Tjibarani in Indonesian)—Kampung Cibarani for short—to empower the village community and educate children to take action. The community focuses on grassroots efforts that highlight the significance of local actions in addressing broader issues.

Irsan and his friends understand that environmental and economic challenges are often interconnected. Thus, they aim to address both simultaneously through education and community empowerment programs.

Irsan is one of the co-founders and now acts as chairman of Kampung Cibarani. Photos courtesy of Kampung Cibarani.

Kampung Cibarani’s Journey to Educate and Empower

For their education program, Kampung Cibarani partners with elementary and middle schools to organize eco-educational field trips in Cibarani Village. The field trip activities vary from picking up trash on the river bank to interactive learn-and-play methods. The goal is to raise enthusiasm and awareness among children and teenagers to participate in preserving their surrounding environments.

For the community empowerment program, Kampung Cibarani focuses on two main activities: waste management campaigns and weekly markets.

Kampung Cibarani wishes to change the villagers’ behavior by teaching and encouraging waste management—like waste sorting between organic, recyclable, and unrecyclable waste—starting from the household level. This activity emphasizes the importance of reducing and minimizing waste to prevent pollution of rivers and oceans. For this activity, Kampung Cibarani collaborates with several waste management organizations, such as Bank Sampah Bersinar and Yaksa Pelestari Bumi Berkelanjutan (YPBB) from Bandung City.

Changing community habits is not an easy task, especially when it involves giving up convenience. Kampung Cibarani recognized that as well as the importance of improving the livelihoods of the community members first. They believed that if the villagers earned income and benefited from a clean river, they would feel a sense of responsibility for keeping the river clean. This idea inspired them to create weekly markets.

The weekly market allows local small businesses to sell their products on the village’s gazebo—known as ‘saung’ in Indonesian—every Saturday and Sunday. Through the weekly markets, the community also promotes local arts and culture.

Understanding Limitations as a Mean to Progress

Kampung Cibarani fully embraces the limitations of its current programs. Kampung Cibarani secretary Aqli said that changing behaviors is challenging and that they have yet to develop a way to measure the impact of their programs.

“Not only individuals or habits but more of [the village’s] cultural behavior also need to be transformed,” shared Aqli, the Secretary of Kampung Cibarani.

Despite the limitations, the community remains optimistic about the potential of their programs. Erland, the Project Manager of Kampung Cibarani, said that they are constantly learning from other community projects and collaborating with them.


Cibarani Village is one of many communities that rely on a river for their livelihood. However, their lifeline is polluted by inaccessible waste management in the village itself. Kampung Cibarani realized this and rallied the community through waste management education and community empowerment programs. They collaborate with schools and other communities to create environmentally conscious behavior to clean up their village river. By raising awareness from a young age, promoting behavior change, and supporting the creative economy of local communities, the village community will appreciate better living conditions and begin to act consciously to protect their environment. Despite facing limitations, the community remains resilient and positive about the potential of the programs. Kampung Cibarani‘s efforts have the potential to drive cleaner rivers—particularly the Cikapudung River and Citarum River—through localized actions.

(Edited by Bryan Yong)


McCarthy, J. (2016, August 24).  The Most And Least Polluted Rivers And Waterways in the World. Global Citizen. Retrieved from January 11, 2024, from 

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Kampung Cibarani is a local community in Bandung, Indonesia, that advocates for river preservation through education and community empowerment programs. Based in the riverside of Cikapundung River, Ciumbuleuit Sub-district, Cidadap District, Bandung City, West Java Province, Indonesia, Kampung Cibarani focuses on co-educational field trips, waste management, and weekly markets in Cibarani Village. You can reach out to them at

This article was produced with support from YSEALI SEEDS for the Future grant 2023.

Dia Marganita

Dia Marganita is a recent graduate majoring in Oceanography from Indonesia. She enjoys taking long walks and playing with stray cats in her free time. She also loves to read, and it motivates her to create stories that can inspire and move people.

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