This is our belief around here

Purification in Islamic Thought and Pollution of Citarum River in West Java

Haryani Saptaningtyas will defend her dissertation on Friday, 11 December 2020 at

13:30 -14:30 CET (19:30 – 20:30 WIB) at the Radboud University Nijmegen.


This study argues that after decades of ’Integrated water management’ in the Upper Citarum River Basin, the most challenging factor is to change the behaviour and perceptions of the people. Local people spoke mainly about industries as the cause of pollution and ignored their own behaviour. Saptaningtyas’ research shows the ambiguity of the perceptions of the people to pollution of Citarum River and the spiritual purification with this dirty water before commencing prayers. This study found that perceptions of pollution are strongly connected with consciousness and spirituality of purity. Polluted water is perceived as ‘normal’ and is part of their life. People search pragmatically for alternative water sources and pump water from a well for their daily needs. This is in disregard to the local myth, and well water is also muddy and contaminated by bacteria. The study found that local belief seemed to be demolished by ‘modernizing river management’. In fact, religious perception is still underdeveloped in relation to solve behaviour problems in the water crisis.

The defense can be viewed online via this link: at the scheduled time.

The research of Haryani Saptaningtyas is part of a collaborative project called the Alliance Project of Water, Health and Development and supported among others by the NIM (Nijmegen Institute for Mission Studies), the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) and PERCIK Research institute, of which Dr Saptaningtyas is now the Director. This research also played a role in the Week Indonesia Netherlands Education and Research (WINNER) last November as part of the session organized by the Living Labs Water Indonesia platform and another session in which the Netherlands Indonesia Consortium for Muslim Christian Relation (NICMCR) participated.