impactAFRICA announces 9 data journalism grant winners

impact-africa //
impact-africa //

Data Journalism Grantees Will Tackle Everything From Funeral Scams to Dodgy Water Companies

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, 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 (Google Africa’s head of communications and public affairs), Toby Shapshak (Stuff editor-in-chief), Charles Onyango-Obbo (former M&G Africa editor and current Africapedia publisher), along with award-winning data journalist, Jacopo Ottaviani.

“I was very impressed with the quality of some of the entries and look forward to seeing these stories move from idea to reality. This is a great initiative that will help to nurture the investigative reporting capabilities of Africa’s media”, said Keeler of the Wall Street Journal. While jury member and mentor Ottaviani said he was confident that the selected projects will be an exciting mix of strong narratives and innovative formats.

The winning projects are:

  1. Digging Deep: Investigating the Funeral Industry (Dianna Neille atChronicle, in South Africa)
  2. Deadly Pregnancies (Anjali Nayar at Timby, in Kenya)
  3. Garnishee Orders for a Pound of Flesh (Kate Ferreira at Business Day, in South Africa
  4. The Basic Services Promise Tracker (Liesl Pretorius at AfricaCheck, in South Africa)
  5. The Poor Distribution of Maternal Health Care (Hezron Kivai atStandard Media, in Kenya)
  6. ClimaTracker: What Climate Change Means For Your Town (Fiona Macleod at Oxpeckers Center for Environmental Investigative Journalism, in South Africa)
  7. Gas Flaring in Nigeria (Paul Myles at BBC World Service, in Nigeria)
  8. Sketchy Sachet Water (Hannah Ojo at The Nation Newspaper, in Nigeria)
  9. Delivering in Lake Victoria (Victor Ogalle Achoka at Kenyan Television Network, in Nigeria)

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 digital 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 (CfAfrica) 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.”

CfAfrica manages impactAFRICA, in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). Arenstein founded CfAfrica in 2012 as an ICFJ initiative and continues to manage it as part of an ICFJ Knight Fellowship. A consortium of donors led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and including the World Bank is funding impactAFRICA.

The best of the nine winning stories will be selected for additional prizes, after publication, in recognition as the best investigative report, the best data-driven story and the best service journalism project.

The partners

Code for Africa (CfAfrica) is the custodian of impactAFRICA and is the continent’s largest independent open data and civic technology initiative. It operates as a federation of autonomous country-based digital innovation organisations that support ‘citizen labs’ in five countries and major projects in a further 15 countries. CfAfrica runs Africa’s OpenGov Fellowships and also embeds innovation fellows into newsrooms and social justice organisations to help liberate data of public interest, or to build tools that help empower citizens. In addition to fellowships and CitizenLabs, CfAfrica runs the $1 million per year innovateAFRICA fund and the $500,000 per year impactAFRICA fund, which both award seed grants to civic pioneers for experiments with everything from camera drones and environmental sensors, to encryption for whistleblowers and data-driven semantic analysis tools for investigative watchdogs. CfAfrica also curates continental resources such as the africanSPENDING portal of budget transparency resources, the openAFRICA data portal, the sourceAFRICA document repository and the connectedAFRICAtransparency toolkit for tracking the often hidden social networks and economic interests in politics. CfAfrica is an initiative of the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) is at the forefront of the news revolution. Its programmes empower journalists and engage citizens with new technologies and best practices. ICFJ’s networks of reporters and media entrepreneurs are transforming the field. ICFJ believes that better journalism leads to better lives. Over the past 30 years, ICFJ has worked with more than 92,000 professional and citizen journalists and media managers from 180 countries. ICFJ work through strong local partners, such as Code for Africa, and a network of dedicated alumni. For more information, go to

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