Food Arrives for Hungry Children After Citizen Journalist Files Report On Indian Cell Phone Network

Apr 12011

When government food deliveries provided for malnourished children in rural India suddenly stopped around the first of the year, Savita Rath and other indigenous workers who care for the children did the best they could to provide meals.

But with food supplies dwindling, Savita also picked up a cell phone and filed a report through CGNet Swara, a mobile news network created by Knight International Fellow Shubhranshu Choudhary. In her report, she said: “We managed to give cooked food to the children in the last few months, but we can not manage any more and today we could only give a little dry food.” She then asked the government to send rice for the children immediately.

The response came quickly. Villagers and activists who heard the report called administrators to find out why the food deliveries had stopped. Less than 24 hours after the report was filed, officials brought cooked food for the children in the village of Raigarh, in India’s Chhattisgarh region. They also gave villagers written assurance that government food deliveries would resume by April 1.

“The CGNet Swara platform provides a crucial missing link between rural and urban communities, and provides key information for people who often don’t have knowledge of what’s happening in the outlying areas,” said Choudhary. “Swara helps hold officials accountable, it delivers important information, and it is an invaluable communications tool for tribal communities.”

Several days after food was delivered, Savita filed another report thanking the people who had called authorities on behalf of the children in her care.