Indonesia, a nation used to limiting the free flow of information as a consequence of a 32-year dictatorship, has now reached the era of openness. The Public Information Disclosure Act was ratified in 2008 and since then, Indonesian citizens are guaranteed access to public information, including information that used to be locked away. Indonesia also has adopted a global initiative to improve transparency and accountability within extractive industries, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Indonesia was even declared the first ‘EITI Compliant’ country of ASEAN. Moving further, Indonesia also supports the Open Data initiative by providing accessible, usable, and machine readable data in a data platform called “”. But as is common in developing countries, data utilization in Indonesia is still low as people aren’t yet aware of its benefits.

Using this momentum, two months ago Publish What You Pay Indonesia, a CSOs coalition focusing on transparency and accountability in extractive sector, held a capacity building event to raise awareness on data utilization for advocacy work, especially in the extractive sector. This was done through the sharing of five skills in working with data, including effective and accurate methods of finding and getting data, procedures on cleaning up messy data, tools for analyzing data, the principles of data visualization and the success story on data-driven advocacy. Around 25 people, representing CSOs around Indonesia, participated in this two-days training. Not only did they enjoy the training, but they also raised a bunch of interesting questions on how data usage can really improve advocacy work.

Recently, there has been some exciting data news from all over Indonesia. The Indigenous community of Talang Mamak, living near extractive site in the tropical rainforest in the regency of Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province, Indonesia were able to gain access to the environmental impact assessment document. Some CSOs can also now access documents showing regional spending, while others have gained access to compilations of mining permits.

Moreover, Publish What You Pay Indonesia, along with other CSOs focusing on extractive industries, joined the Coalition of Anti-Mafia in Mining, successfully creating a data pipeline on advocacy work focusing on the improvement of mining governance. Using data from mining permits and of the revenue obtained from various government offices, the coalition calculated the difference between what should have been paid in mining revenues and what had in fact been paid. The findings showed that in four years (2010-2013), Borneo lost out on a potential 47 million US$ of mining revenue.

The coalition also did very good job to visualize the lost potential by creating well-informed yet attractive infographics. Data utilization in this case has helped the coalition strengthen their advocacy work, especially in order to support the vigorous  Corruption Eradication Commission’s initiative to re-manage governance in mining, oil and gas sector in 12 provinces in Indonesia.

Open data is not useful on its own. Information shared by the government or other sources still needs to be processed, analyzed and effectively communicated to the public. Civil society organizations should play this key role to improve the advocacy agenda. “We are very happy to see the enthusiasm of CSOs in promoting open data movement in Indonesia. The open data platform that has been established by government can improve continually thanks to CSOs’ active involvement”, said Mardijanto, Assistant to the Head of President Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4) at the National Workshop on Transparency and Corruption Eradication in the Oil, Gas, and Mining Sector held by Publish What You Pay Indonesia in October. To sum-up, open data is not the end. It opens to a greater opportunity and CSOs need to use it wisely. For now at least, the wave of open data movement has started to have an impact and continues to grow.


By Jensi Sartin and Rizky Ananda