Current status: impactAFRICA has now closed applications for round three

  • Published: November 14th, 2016

Groundbreaking investigations into illegal fishing off South Africa’s coast and challenges around access to drinking water in Nigeria were selected as the winning stories of the water and sanitation round of the impactAFRICA data journalism initiative. The three winning journalists will receive an all-expenses paid study tours to major newsrooms in the United States, as part of the impactAFRICA data journalism initiative.

The winning stories are:

South Africa All At Sea by Sipho Kings writing for the Mail & Guardian won recognition for Best Community Impact for his reportage on illegal fishing along South Africa's coast. Kings’ reportage helped dispel public confusion around South Africa (a maritime country) and the protection of its maritime assets, and for the first time offered citizens compelling explanations about how illegal fishing in these communities affects their livelihood and the industry. Kings’ writing has been cited in several seminars - including by members of the South African Navy - and in public debates on the issue. The follow-up mass media coverage on the issue sparked by Kings’ reportage is credited for prompting the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the navy to increase naval patrols, which led to a string of arrests of illegal fishing trawlers and their operators.

Dam Data: Water Data for Nigeria by Abiri Oluwatosin Niyi writing for CMapIT won recognition for Best Use of Data. This tool tracks data related to the supply and consumption of drinking water in Nigeria. Niyi launched the project after discovering that there were no easily accessible official data sources about Nigeria’s challenge to provide citizens with water. The project uses real-time data gathering and sharing system from both dam operators and citizens to monitor water distribution and produce journalistic reports on the trends by making use of a mobile app. Citizens are able to report on the quality of water supplied to them, whether the service providers are meeting promises and whether they are experiencing water scarcity. The underlying data is made available free for download and reuse by other media and citizen groups. Citizens are also able to monitor government expenditure of taxpayers money and transparency in order to collaborate with regulators to ensure equal access to water.

Ibadan: A City of Deep Wells and Dry Taps by Kolawole Talabi writing for the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (iCIR) won recognition for Best Audience Engagement. Talabi’s investigation details how plummeting government revenues from oil sales have led to reduced public expenditure on water supply in Nigeria’s third largest city, Ibadan, resulting in rapidly worsening health and hygiene for three million people. The reportage sparked intense online public debate, followed by a wave of calls for government to either immediately improve funding or to privatise water infrastructure and services in Ibadan. At the time of application, this story was the most read on the iCIR website and the website continues to track follow up reports.

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).

This round saw journalists in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia investigate water and sanitation issues between March 30 and June 30, 2016.

impactAFRICA’s next deadline for newsrooms to receive funding and support for investigative data-driven story projects is November 15. Get the details here.

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 connectedAFRICA transparency 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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