RuaiSMS to empower grass root communities


Ruai Television Station


Type: Private sector | Categories: Code for the common good

Provide a clear and concrete project summary, with as much details as relevant for the Selection Committee to fully understand the extent of the benefits that the nominated project has bring to the community it serves.Please note this summary will be publicly available and it will be use to promote your project during the Community Choice Award online voting period.

RuaiSMS is a communication channel created to empower grass root communities, especially indigenous people communities in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. RuaiTV has been trained around 200 community members to use their cell phones sending news. They are practicing citizen journalism. RuaiTV is opening its news room for grass root communities who are marginalized and never in the media. Through practicing citizen journalism - with mobile technology - the community members are empowering themselves. RuaiSMS and RuaiTV are helping them to find solution of their problems. They are monitoring public servants and hold companies accountable.

Please provide background information that allows the Selection Committee to understand the context in which your organization operates. What are the main challenges? What is the problem the project was set up to address? Please indicate when the project started.

The right of indigenous peoples to manage, utilize, control indigenous or custom territory, including the natural resources in the territory to fulfill their needs is the most violated in Indonesia. The development policies related to forestry, plantations, and mining are always violated the indigenous peoples right to their customary land and forest.

The indigenous peoples in West Kalimantan are still facing a lot of problems related to indigenous peoples rights recognition. Here are the issues: violation of the right to customary forests or lands; limited access to good education or schools, health services, electricity; local government policies that disintegrate indigenous peoples organizations that reducing closeness among indigenous peoples; and poverty.

The most important issue that specific to indigenous people in West Kalimantan, beside poverty, is tenurial conflict with oil palm plantation companies. n 2010 there are 550,000 hectares oil palm plantations. While the Government already issued permits or concessions for oil palm plantations for 1.5 million hectares. West Kalimantan is planning to expand oil palm plantation to five million hectares, more than any other provinces in Indonesia. Until early 2010, at least there were around 200 conflicts between communities and oil palm plantations.

The big constrain on information and communication technology is lack of proper infrastructure since most of indigenous peoples communities are in remote area. It is not only telecommunication infrastructure, no electricity means the indigenous people cannot use cellular phones and have Internet access. We can say most of indigenous peoples communities have no access to Internet.

But, mobile-phone penetration in Indonesia is 68% in 2009. In term of subscriber numbers, the mobile-phone market grew by 20.9% more. Mobile phone penetration is high in West Kalimantan, especially in Pontianak and district capital cities. Cell phone is important communication tool.

Mainstream media are very limited in covering indigenous peoples issues or information related to indigenous peoples communities or grass root communities.

Based on those facts, RuaiTV supported by Knight International Journalism Fellow (from ICFJ) created an open news room to facilitate news from grass root communities, especially indigenous people communities. Since, the only communication tool available for them was cell phone, RuaiTV created RuaiSMS - a communication channel using FrontlineSMS that can receive and distribute SMS news.

What are the main reasons why your organization was motivated to initiate the project? Did the project respond to specific needs of a community?

Who was in charge of the project implementation? What other organizations/groups participated? Please provide information about the organizational arrangements that allowed the project to be implemented.

What are the main project objective(s) and what was the strategy used to achieve them?

1. To empower grass root community members using mobile technology
2. To create an open news room for grass root communities to participate in news reporting
3. To develop communication channel using Frontlinesms program
4. To monitor public services and to held public servant accountable and transparent
5. To help the grass root communities hold companies accountable

Please provide more details about the technical aspects of your project implementation. Describe what technologies were used, how they were integrated, what is innovative about it, etc.? Without detailed technical information the nomination will be automatically rejected.

1. FrontlineSMS program
2. IVR Swara System

What were the most relevant activities conducted during the course of the project? Indicate if those activities have been completed or are on-going.

1. Created RuaiSMS - communication channel (using Frontlinesms) that make possible for grass root community members to send SMS news using their cell phones
2. Created RuaiSwara - another communication channel (using Swara IVR) that make possible for grass root community members to file voice news
3. Trained around 200 grass root community members - especially the Dayaks indigenous people community members - on citizen journalism
4. Integrated RuaiSMS into news ticker on RuaiTV screen
5. Blasted SMS news from RuaiSMS to around 400 subscribers

Provide a list of the most relevant outcomes achieved as part of the project activities.

The program has created social change in the grass root level. The program has empowered grass root communities, hold on oil palm company accountable, monitored public servants, and other social changes

Describe what dissemination efforts were completed during the last year to promote your project. Include lists of publications, marketing materials, etc.


Please let us know if your organization or your project team has received any awards or distinctions, specially those related to the nominated project

2013 Communication for Social Change Award

✕  The nominated project has been operational for at least one year. The community has already received the benefits of the activities.

Website from your organization

Explain why this project deserves the prize

RuaiSMS is the only model of grass root communication channel that proved help empowering farmers, indigenous people communities in West Kalimantan. The program also has proved a model how mainstream media can help empowering grass root communities through open news room

YouTube movie about the project

Facebook profile or Facebook page from the organization or project leader

Twitter profile from the organization or project leader

Google+ profile from the organization or project leader


Provide at least one link to other websites, newspapers, blogs, etc. providing evidence about the work conducted by your self, your project and/or your organization.

Provide at least one file with supporting documentation about your organization’s capacity to manage grants, references to support the need for such solution to be developed, reference letters from partners, etc.


Project Representative

Harry Surjadi

Project Representative on Linkedin :

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