Surabaya: Urbanization Trends

Surabaya: Urbanization Trends

Cities Rarely Prepare for Urbanization

Urban growth trends in the world’s poorest countries are linked directly to opportunity potential. One can see how urbanization occurs and its impacts when studying developing countries. The cities of Southeast Asia have been heavily impacted by urbanization. A powerful example of how urbanization occurs in this region can be seen in Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, home to 5.6 million people. Surabaya, like most of Indonesia, has been plagued with air pollution, water shortages, over population, and unsanitary conditions (Paul, Po Chun Tu, 2012). In Surabaya, increasing population density is caused by individuals seeking job opportunities in the city. As Surabaya continues to modernize people continue to leave rural areas and move to the city pursuing financial opportunities. In Surabaya, urbanization is an obvious issue as the process has led to Kampungs which are the primary housing for low-income families. Kampungs are extremely, old many dating back before the 1920’s in which small shack style homes were constructed by individuals needing housing.

Part of the problem with urbanization is the fact that the process is rarely prepared for by current populations. In Surabaya, most of the Kampungs were built without thought of plumbing or sanitation removal and continued construction only increased the problem. Kampung construction has continued without adequate regulations and policies governing building and living conditions. The density of the housing is so thick that in Surabaya, Kampungs represent only 7% of the cities area but provide homes for 63% of the population (Johan, 1992).

Because most of the Kampungs were built without plumbing and without waste removal systems they are responsible for a variety of serious problems. Poor water resources and sanitation leads to diseases such as dysentery and malaria outbreaks that endanger large numbers of individuals living in these areas. Overcrowding and lack of adequate refuse removal has increased all forms of pollution and damaged the environment. Part of the problem with sanitation is the fact that Kampungs are so densely populated and overgrown with buildings that they choke any form of traffic.

Beyond environmental and resource issues, urbanization is a problem because it is difficult to curb. People urbanize as a function of behavior and seek opportunities in urban centers even when the opportunities are not easily obtained. In Surabaya, for instance, the people that come to the city seeking opportunity often find that there is too much competition and lack of opportunity and their lives improve little (Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2005). As a result of the behavioral component, urbanization continues to be a large problem in the developing world.


Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2005). World urbanization prospects 2005. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WUP2005/2005wup.htm

Johan, Silas. World Habitat Awards, “The Kampung Improvement Programme, Surabaya.” Last modified 1992. Accessed January 22, 2013. http://www.worldhabitatawards.org/winners- and-finalists/project-details.cfm?lang=00&theProjectID=117

Paul, Po Chun Tu. UC Irvine School of Biological Sciences, “A SUSTAINABLE JAKARTA.” Last modified 2012. Accessed January 22, 2013. http://darwin.bio.uci.edu/~sustain/state/ptu.html.

Photo by Hobi industri on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Fri, Jan 29, 2021. Surabaya: Urbanization Trends Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/surabaya-urbanization-trends

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