2021 has been a year of community-based development for our Climate Tracker Africa team. In the past years, our network of journalists on the continent has been consistently growing, but this time, we really wanted to focus on engaging with our members in ways that would enable us to create real value.
We organised online events aimed at growing our network of African journalists, while also strengthening the bonds between them, and we set out to provide training, publishing, and mentoring opportunities to benefit our community.
In 2021, Climate Tracker ran multiple global journalism projects which included representation from within our Africa community and we also hosted an Africa-focused fellowship, which saw 50+ journalists from 23 African countries come on board.
Let’s take a look.
Drylands restoration journalism fellowship
More than half a billion people live and work in Africa’s drylands, among the most parched landscapes on the planet, and representing 43 percent of the continent. Smallholders nurture crops and graze livestock on land that is mostly rainfed — and rapidly degrading, due in part to the relentless, devastating force of climate change that threatens the rich biodiversity of these fragile landscapes.
On 2-3 June 2021, the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) hosted the first-ever digital conference focused entirely on Africa’s drylands and how integrative restoration practices can see them flourish once again – GLF Africa 2021. We were honoured to have the chance to put together a team to report on this event.
😍Thanks to our guest speakers! Peter Minang at @ICRAF, Salima Mahamoudou at @WorldResources, Jonathan Davies at @IUCN, & Birguy Lamizana Diallo at @UNCCD! Our fellows got the chance to explore themes related to land management and dryland issues in Africa. | #GLFAfrica pic.twitter.com/MYUSKwPxRY— Climate Tracker (@ClimateTracking) May 27, 2021
We received a resounding response to our call for applications and our resulting team of 50+ journalists and freelance writers got training to research and report on Africa’s dryland restoration efficiently. The initial training lasted 2 weeks and the best 5 participants moved on to cover the GLF, also receiving grants to continue further with their stories.
Sessions covered field reporting, media analysis of dryland stories in Africa, and thematic training with experts from the GLF. This was followed by publication of stories such as Akua Nalova Mambeh’s “A race against time: The giant weeds taking over Lake Ossa in Cameroon,” Florence Gichoya’s “Restoration of African drylands key to economic growth,” and Mathatisi Sebusi’s interesting human-interest story “Food insecurity? Count me out.”
Regina (Tanzania) and Louvier (Cameroon) share some of what they learned during the training ⬇️⬇️
Food, farming, and climate change
Together with Nourish Scotland, we gathered a group of fellows to share stories linked to agriculture, food security, and climate change in their country. Some really incredible pieces came out of this with the aim to spread awareness and build a social movement around the need to integrate just and sustainable food policies within national climate action plans.
Africans telling Africa’s stories
Across our global opportunities, the Africa community has been sharing stories that need to be told. This is something we hope continues and even expands in 2022.
Just to give you a taste, here’s some of the stories that really stood out to me.
Watsemba Miriam highlighted that the past two years, more than 400 rural homes in Eastern Uganda, which previously depended on kerosene for lighting or firewood for cooking, have been lit by recycled waste. Similarly, Kevin Lunzalu, from Kenya told an interesting story about a 28-year-old self-taught artist from Nairobi, Kenya, who is combating climate change by creating toys, serviette holders and art pieces.
Vivian Chime went in-depth to showcase the importance of forests for indigenous groups in Nigeria. Logging is severely impacting their way-of-life, livelihoods, and health. Also from Nigeria, Agbaje Ayomide, shared the plight of refugees who are currently facing added hardships due to flooding. Frequent flash floods are a constant threat of loss and destruction of the only things they have left.
Cece Siago, from Kenya shared, every month, this community group in Gasi Bay, Kenya, voluntarily takes part in mangrove planting activities. Just recently, they planted over 5,000 mangroves seedlings at Gasi Bay together with various other Kenyan government officials.
Kennedy Nyavaya, showcases the impacts of coal power plants in Zimbabwe in this story. Decades of toxic coal mining and energy production has not only altered the area’s air quality for the worst, but polluted the region’s water, soil and vegetation.
And Steve Otieno shed light on the negative effects of coal plants on cultural heritage in Kenya.
Africa team shines at COP26
We were happy to have a team of 13 journalists on our hybrid in-person/virtual COP26 Journalism Fellowship. Together, they wrote and published 50+ stories in the span of just 2 weeks!
On this impactful team, we had some amazing women writing powerful stories. Just check out Onke Ngcuka’s story about South Africa’s refusal to pledge movement away from coal, Eman’s story about the impacts of climate change on conflict zones in Yemen and Palenstine, Caroline’s story about Uganda remaining silent about deforestation during the climate summit, Hadeer’s insights into the realities of climate finance, and Rahma’s story about a potential switch to hydrogen-focused energy in Arab countries.
It was one of the most diverse African teams we’ve ever had, with journalists from Egypt, South Africa, Angola, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana, writing about the negotiations and what they meant for their countries.
Hear from Daouda Kinda, our COP26 fellow from Burkina Faso ⬇️
A couple changes on our Africa team
Mid-2021, we brought on two new team members – Joyce Chachi-Hilton and Senami Kojah. Senami played a critical role in the training of our COP26 fellows and Joyce has been working one-on-one with our community members on outreach and for projects, events, and opportunities.
Additionally, Lina Yassin, who held down the Climate Tracker in the Africa and Middle Eastern region for the past 5 years moved on to pursue advancements in her tertiary education. Lina is now enrolled in Environment and Policy at the University of Oxford and we’re excited to see the new paths she’ll be taking.
Community revival was essential
Joyce has been doing a great job! We’re excited to see her roll out her plans for community engagement in 2022.
Here’s some of our webinars/hangout sessions you don’t want to miss:
- Webinar: Making Sense of Climate Finance in Africa
- Community hangout: Why does Africa need climate journalism?
- Community Hangout: COP26 from an African Perspective
What to expect in 2022
It’s really difficult to predict what will happen in the coming year, as we’re seeing how uncertainty reigns. However, we do know that we will remain committed to developing and carrying out programmes for young African journalists to continue building their capacity to report on climate and environmental issues.
COP27 is set to take place in Egypt in 2022, and we already know our Africa team will rock it!
See you next year!