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“Sungai Watch” triumphs: Clearing Bali’s ‘most polluted’ river in 24-hour marathon

In a remarkable achievement, non-profit organization ‘Sungai Watch’ had successfully cleared Bali’s heavily polluted ‘Tukad Teba’ river on Monday.

The effort began on 18 August, aided by Denpasar Mayor’s support, with 150 troops and excavators joining locals in a 24-hour cleanup, collecting 15 tons of trash.



BALI, INDONESIA: The non-profit organization ‘Sungai Watch’ achieved a remarkable accomplishment by successfully clearing what they described as “the most polluted” river in Bali.

On 20 August, ‘Sungai Watch’ uploaded a video on their Instagram account, indicating their attempt to clean the ‘Tukad (River) Teba’ in Bali, which is laden with debris along a 600-meter expanse.

In the video, they extended a cordial invitation to the public to join their effort and offer assistance.

With the power of social media, the video managed to reach the Indonesian President’s cabinet, prompting the Denpasar Mayor to offer aid the following day.

The Mayor of Denpasar contributed by sending 150 troops and excavators to help, and together they worked with the locals to clean up the river.

Sam Bencheghib, the co-founder of Sungai Watch, shared a video during the process of cleaning up ‘Tukad Teba’ on his Instagram account.

On that day, everyone worked together and successfully cleaned the entire river within 24 hours, gathering around 15 tons of trash.

“No idea is crazy enough!” Sam wrote on his video, right before he leapt into the trash-laden river.

He conveyed his gratitude to those who participated, as well as to @denpasarkota and Denpasar Mayor @jayanegaraofficial, acknowledging that their assistance was crucial for making it achievable.

According to Tribun Bali, an Indonesian news source, the process of cleaning up began last Friday (18 Aug) and extended over several days.

However, the full clean-up was accomplished in just a span of 2 days.

“Thank you to everyone for sharing and for getting the message heard. We are now working with the government on a long-term plan to make sure no rivers in Denpasar ever get this bad!” Sam said on his Instagram post.

He also posted another video showcasing the transformation of the river’s appearance “before and after.”

‘Sungai Watch’ effort to reduce plastic in the ocean, starting from the rivers. 

Sungai Watch is a committed non-governmental organization (NGO) with an environmental focus, dedicated to the preservation and rejuvenation of rivers in Indonesia.

On their website, they said they are “on a mission to protect and restore Indonesia’s rivers by developing and designing simple technologies to stop the flow of plastic pollution from going into the ocean.”

The simple technology they mentioned is what they call a “trash barrier.”

A simple trash barrier to prevent the flow of plastic from the river to the ocean (Photo: SUNGAI WATCH)

They believe that one of the simplest ways to clean the ocean is by starting from the rivers, where they can still prevent the flow of plastics.

“Our barriers are the perfect tool to get communities and governments involved in cleaning our waterways. Through these barriers, we are able to better understand what is polluting our rivers and how we can improve our actions on land,” they explained on the website.

Consequently, for every river where these barriers are positioned, a designated ‘Sungai Warrior’ will engage in a daily cleaning routine in that area.

Afterwards, they will separate all the collected trash into different groups, study and note down information to have discussions about plastic pollution with stakeholders, and then they will clean, shred, and get the trash ready for recycling.

“Every waste category we collect has value – we are currently experimenting with ways to turn trash into products,” they said.

They worked with more than 85 ‘Sungai warriors’ who went out every day to clean the rivers on behalf of Sungai Watch.

“We are big believers that in order to see real changes in our rivers, we need to work with local communities by empowering local heroes at every cleanup,” they said.

Some of their impacts achieved to date include:

  • Collected over 1,000,000 kg of plastics from the environment (as of March 2023)
  • Installed barriers in over 180 rivers, 32 villages and 4 Indonesian regions
  • Organized over 600 community cleanups, adding to over 2 years of volunteer hours
  • Grew from a team of volunteers to over 85 full-time employees in 3 years
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