Prigi Arisandi spent much of his childhood exploring the river and went on to study biology and conservation. With a deep commitment to the communities living along the river, he founded Ecological Observation and Wetlands Conservation (Ecoton) while still at university. The organization set out to protect the water resources and wetlands ecosystems of Indonesia.
Prigi Arisandi had inspired thousands of people to become Surabaya’s advocates for river protection. He created the first experiential environmental education program in the region, educating the public through river tours that bring children and local residents closer to the river’s rich biodiversity and devastating pollution.
Arisandi’s River Detection Program, has been implemented in more than 50 schools, teaches children how to monitor the river’s water quality and report their findings to the government. Arisandi has personally conducted regular investigations of waste dumping by industry operating on the river. Sharing his findings with environmental regulators and the media, he has helped bring about unprecedented public reporting of the pollution activities and their impact on the health of the Surabaya River. By 2011, he was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, for his efforts to reduce industrial pollution in Surabaya River. Prigi Arisandi become the only person of Indonesian who had received award from Barack Obama.