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Karbela, the popular abbreviation for 'Karet Belakang,'  is a world hidden behind the tall buildings of the Sudirman-Kuningan-Kasablanka business corridor.

Why do they call it "Karet behind?" Where is the "front?"

Pengantar Diskusi USF 9:

Introduction to USF 9 Discussion:
Designing an Inclusive City

Every day millions of Jakarta residents rely on informality as a source of livelihood or as consumers. ​ This interaction between formal and informal is what makes Jakarta, to the extent that it cannot be separated from the daily lives of its citizens. ​


Rame-Rame Jakarta will discuss how an inclusive city accommodates diverse rights in the use of space, including how the city can provide for the needs of Jakarta's working class. ​


For Urban Social Forum 9 in 2022, we dive deeper into the stories of the residents of RT.04 in Karet-Setiabudi as a lens to understand the complexities of daily life in Jakarta. ​


Our live interview with Mama Mia can be watched in this video. For those who want to understand more about the background of this story, please download the introductory guide here.

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Within this strategic and densely populated area, there are dozens of narrow alleys known only to local residents or experienced motorcycle taxi drivers.


Right in the middle of the area is the Pasar Mencos Market, which is the economic heart of the informal sector, especially for hundreds of warteg food stalls, retail traders and food carts that operate every day on the border between the kampung and nearby offices, serving the needs of food, clothing and shelter for thousands of commuting workers and boarding children who call this area a temporary home in the city of Jakarta.


Everything seemed to be going well until the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed all existing socio-economic relationships. Will a new socio-economic balance and stability be created in the area soon?


Which one is better able to survive in this area? The formal economy or the roots economy?

Projects in


The Gang 'Z' Story

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A story of the Jakarta community and its struggle for the right to use city space. The center is a small alley in the Karet area with unclear land use status.


You can read this story on the STORY page - just click on the theme 'gang z'

Adapting to the 'New Karet'

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During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the pattern of activities in the city of Jakarta has changed massively. More people work from home, stay in residential areas or on the outskirts of the city. Under these conditions, what about the impact on communities in the city center which rely on the presence of office workers? Can the symbiosis between formal and informal survive this great disturbance? This is the challenge of adapting to new habits in Karet.



Over the past five years, we have talked a lot and conducted interviews with heroes of the grassroots economy in the Karbela area, to better understand the issue of urban informality.


The stories of their struggles can be read on the STORIES page, just click on the 'Karbela' theme tag!

The Gang Walker


We invite the public to participate in exploring the journey of the city heroes in KARBELA (Behind Karet). If you're curious about what's behind the tall buildings, THE GANG WALKER is a chance to explore the small alleys and see the dense networks of informality firsthand!

Reports from


Bahasa Indonesia Reports

Report 1: Eating and Drinking in the City Center

Report 2: Rent and Mobility in the Megacity

Report 3: The Karet 'Roots Economy'

English Language Reports

Report 2: Rent and Mobility in the Megacity

Report 3: The Karet 'Roots Economy'

Report 1: Eating & Drinking in the City Center


In our Karbela project, RRJ's research focuses on the interactions & contributions between the formal and informal sectors in the city center. The reports & data can be read by clicking the links below (.PDF).

Raw Data for the Research

Raw Data 1  - Formal Food & Drink

Raw Data 2 - Vendor Food & Drink

Raw Data 3 - Formal Renting

Raw Data 4 - Informal Renting

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