Four Nigerian journalists have been awarded prizes of $1,750 by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the United Nations Foundation for their outstanding coverage of conflict, flooding and desertification.
Three of the journalists: Ochiaka Ugwu of People’s Daily Newspapers, Babatunde Okunlola from Royal FM and Kelechukwu Iruoma of Ripples Nigeria won $1,000, $500 and $250 cash prizes, respectively.
Ochiaka Ugwu won first place for his story: “The People Whose Soil is Turning to Trash” while Okunlola won second place with an in-depth radio report titled, “Illorin: The Place Called Away”. According to ICFJ, Okunlola’s “radio broadcast focused on massive dump sites, a side effect of population growth, and the resulting damage to the general environment and public health”.
Third place winner, Iruoma, used photos, charts and videos for his multimedia story on the Benue region. Published by Ripples Nigeria, the story detailed how the area could experience food shortages in the future as climate change in the form of floods and limited rainfall hit major food production.
Vanessa Offiong of Daily Trust won ‘Honourable Mention’ for her story: “When Antenatal is a Luxury: The IDP Story”. The story examined the high cost and low availability of care for pregnant women living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
They were among the 40 Nigerian journalists who participated in a six-month training programme on Enhancing Climate and Migration Reporting at Washington, D.C.
ICFJ said as part of a story competition for programme participants, a panel of judges recognised the four journalists for their outstanding coverage.
The journalists’ organisation said these cadre of newly trained journalists from across Nigeria had reached millions of readers and listeners with stories on climate and migration issues affecting their communities.
ICFJ said the 40 journalists produced more than 50 stories on topics such as migration linked to conflict, flooding and desertification, and the resulting impact on health and economic security.
According to ICFJ:
“The stories were part of a programme to bolster coverage of these critical topics in a part of the world deeply influenced by them.
They worked with environmental and population experts, as well as top media trainers from Africa and beyond.
The training, both virtual and in-person courses, focused on better understanding climate issues, learning data-driven tools and strengthening multimedia storytelling techniques.
Ugwu’s impressive story incorporated the voices of struggling farmers to examine the harsh impact of desertification on communities.
Due to the land, residents are forced to leave because the soil can no longer sustain the farming practices.”
The programme encouraged Nigerian journalists to produce compelling stories on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 10 and 13. These SDGs aimed to “reduce inequality within and among countries” and to “combat climate change and its impact” by 2030.
ICFJ said other participants produced stories on topics such as health care in camps for displaced people, conflicts between farmers and herdsmen and the relation to migration.