impactAFRICA announces 9 data journalism grant winners


Nine investigative data journalism projects that tackle African development challenges will jointly receive $100,000 in reporting grants along with additional editorial and technology support as part of impactAFRICA’s first cohort of grantees.

The projects, in six African countries, range from data-driven investigations into the funeral industry and the dodgy business behind bottled water, to analysis of the impacts of climate change and service delivery failures on poor communities, as well as the plight of rural Africans who struggle to get access to safe maternity care.

“The projects are all hard-hitting investigations into life and death issues facing ordinary African citizens. We had a hard time selecting these nine winners from over 350 applications, but are confident that the winners will produce journalism that helps changes lives,” says impactAFRICA programme manager Haji Mohamed Dawjee.

impactAFRICA is the continent’s largest fund for data-driven investigative storytelling, offering $500,000 in cash grants and technology support, along with editorial mentorship, across a series of funding rounds for pioneering journalism that uses data or digital tools to tackle development issues such as public healthcare, water, sanitation, the effects of air and water pollution on African communities, climate change and its effects on farming communities and food baskets, and other development issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

An independent jury helped select the final nine winners from 40 shortlisted semi-finalists from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The jury was composed of a mix of African and global media experts, including Dan Keeler (editor of Frontier Markets at the Wall Street Journal), Mich Atagana (head of communications and public affairs at Google Africa), Toby Shapshak (editor-in-chief at Stuff magazine), Charles Onyango-Obbo (former M&G Africa editor and current Africapedia publisher), along with award-winning data journalist, Jacopo Ottaviani.
The winning projects are:

  • Digging Deep: Investigating the Funeral Industry (Dianna Neille at Chronicle, in South Africa)
  • Deadly Pregnancies: Investigating The Effects of Poor Access to Abortion Services (Anjali Nayar at Timby, in Kenya)
  • Pound of Flesh: Garnishee Orders & Their Impact On Working Class Families (Kate Ferreira, freelancer at Business Day, in South Africa
  • Political Promises: Tracking Government’s Promises on Basic Services (Liesl Pretorius at AfricaCheck, in South Africa)
  • Still Born: The Impact of Unequal Access to Maternal Healthcare On Rural Kenya (Hezron Kivai at Standard Media, in Kenya)
  • ClimaTracker: What Climate Change Means For Your Town (Fiona Macleod at Oxpeckers Center for Environmental Investigative Journalism, in South Africa)
  • Gas Flaring: What Are The Health Impacts on Rural Communities in Nigeria? (Paul Myles at On Our Radar, in Nigeria)
  • Sketchy Sachets: Just How Pure is Your Bottled Water? (Hannah Ojo at The Nation Newspaper, in Nigeria)
  • Water Births: Investigating How the Lack of Ambulances Impacts Pregnancies on Lake Victoria (Victor Ogalle Achoka at Kenyan Television Network, in Kenya)

The winners will each receive a cash grant of up to $20,000 (depending on the project requirements), as well as support from Code for Africa’s technology and data journalism laboratories across the continent. The African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) will also help winners syndicate the resulting digital stories into a range of leading African and wider world media.

“Our teams will help winners experiment with everything from camera drones and data tools, to mobile journalism techniques to make their stories more impactful. Stories need to give audiences actionable information, so that citizens are better informed to make real-world decisions on whether to trust their water or local hospitals, and how to pressure government to improve service standards,” explains Code for Africa director, Justin Arenstein.

“Journalism needs to start giving people this kind of personalised information, if it wants to survive in the new era of social media and free Internet content.”

Visit the impactAFRICA website here.