In Indonesia, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is using smartphone technology to revolutionize how forests are protected.
With support from the NetHope 2017 Device Challenge grant, we are helping villagers adopt the SIGAP (an acronym meaning: inspiring community actions for change) approach, which was created by TNC. Bolstered by smartphone technology, SIGAP is helping to improve village governance, create economic opportunities and manage natural resources.
TNC has also received the NetHope 2017 Device Challenge “Gold Star Award”. We were selected to receive an additional US$25,000 grant on top of the original funding received as part of a $5.5 million donation from Google.org. The award recognizes our outstanding achievements, impact and innovation.
Tropical forests are disappearing in Indonesia faster than anywhere else on Earth. The widespread conversion of these lands to agricultural and logging use requires community engagement on an unprecedented scale to salvage irreplaceable habitat and to safeguard the natural resources that traditional villages have depended on for centuries.
Using smartphones and the SIGAP app, remote communities in four provinces are transforming the way they communicate about how they can improve their village governance, create economic opportunities and better manage natural resources. We’ve reached over 500,000 people, and we plan to scale up by introducing SIGAP to a total of 300 villages, helping to improve forest management across 13 million acres by 2022. This effort is the first of its kind in Indonesia.
Often communities feel pressured to convert their natural resources and find it challenging to balance economic growth and natural resource conservation. Furthermore, forest-dependent villages are often limited by inadequate technical skills, exclusion from government land use planning, a lack of alternate livelihood options and other challenges that prevent their ability to fight deforestation, coastal destruction and other ecological damage.
The villages that we have targeted are located in areas with significant intact tropical forests and coastal ecosystems. These villagers are committed to SIGAP that helps them to:
- Improve their leadership skills,
- Develop village and land use plans,
- Advance new livelihood options through sustainable agriculture and marketing of forest products such as small-scale rubber plantations and honey,
- Improve forest management through community patrols that protect against illegal logging and poaching, and
- Gain access to rights over their forests.
We are continuing to expand our reach and improve the SIGAP app 2.0 to promote the SIGAP approach as a way to achieve communities’ visions for the future.