in Ecuador, Indonesia, Tanzania, Uncategorized

Communications: How indigenous communities have used radio, video and other communication strategies to defend their territories

Community radioLife Mosaic‘s video “Communications” takes a look at three communities that are successfully using communications strategies to organise in defence of their territories. It’s another video in the series “Territories of Life“.

Strong communications strategies are important to let the wider world know about the problems that are affecting communities. And sharing information within the community can help to strengthen the community’s hold on its territory.

Penunggu, Indonesia

The members of the community of Penunggu in Indonesia have been organising for more than 60 years to reclaim their customary land from state-run oil palm plantations. Since February 2012, the community has run a popular community radio station, Radio Gelora.

It airs for three hours a day, broadcasting talk shows, entertainment, and news. Susanto from Radio Gelora explains that,

/SusantoThe main reason we set up a community radio here is to ensure that we, the indigenous people here, are economically independent, politically sovereign, and culturally dignified. This radio is a megaphone for our struggle, so indigenous peoples understand what are indigenous peoples, what are customs, and what are we struggling for as indigenous peoples.

Community radio gives communities the opportunity to broadcast their own information, promote their own cultural values, and coordinate the defence of their territories.

Maasai people, Tanzania

The Maasai’s lands are being lost to tourism, conservation, and sport hunting of the rich. Maasai communities have raised national and international attention to their struggle for their territory.

They have set up blogs, used Facebook, and sent out press releases, with information, background and analysis. They attached pictures of big meetings to the press releases, which are signed by 30 or 40 community representatives. “This attracted people, this attracted media,” Samwel Nangiria says.


“Media has a lot of power,” he says, “to influence decisions, to influence even plans of corporations, and at times even to block when they properly capture the messages of the community.”

Kichwa people, Sarayaku, Ecuador

For more than 20 years, the Kichwa indigenous people have been defending their territory deep in the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling companies.

“This is the first community from the interior of this forest to have internet, so that we can connect with the world,” says Hilda Santi. The internet has allowed the people of Sarayaku to access information, let people know when they are threatened, and build solidarity networks with others around the world.

Eriberto Gualinga is a film maker from Sarayaku. His work has publicised the story of the Kichwa and their struggle against oil companies. He says,

The importance of communication in our struggle is that it allows us to show first hand evidence, to show what the state or companies try to hide. Here we can show what’s really happening.

Eriberto Gualinga


LifeMosaic’s website includes a resources page, with links to the following reports related to this video:

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