Investigation Into Water Crisis In Ibadan Wins impactAFRICA Award

Kolawole Talabi
Kolawole Talabi

A groundbreaking investigation into the challenges of access to drinking water in Nigeria, done by Kolawole Talabi and published on the icirnigeria.org website has been selected as one of the winning stories of the water and sanitation round of the impactAFRICA data journalism initiative.

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

Talabi’s story, titled: Ibadan: A City of Deep Wells and Dry Taps  won recognition for Best Audience Engagement.

The investigation details how dwindling revenues from crude oil sales have led to reduced public expenditure on water supply in Ibadan, Nigeria’s third largest city, with its attendant consequence of rapidly worsening health and hygiene for over three million people.

Talabi’s report 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.

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“At the time of application, this story was the most read on the iCIR website and the website continues to track follow up reports,” an information on the impactAFRICA website read.

Talabi, and the two other winning journalists will receive an all-expenses paid study tour to major newsrooms in the United States, as part of the impactAFRICA data journalism initiative.

The other winning stories include: Dam Data:  Water Data for Nigeria by Abiri Oluwatosin Niyi writing for CMapIT which won recognition for Best Use of Data. This tool tracks data related to the supply and consumption of drinking water in Nigeria.

The report was an attempt to bring to the fore the challenges posed by the difficulty to access official data sources about Nigeria’s challenge to provide citizens with water.

Niyi’s 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.

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With the help of the 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, and the data is made available for free 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.
Also among the winning stories, is an investigation by South African journalist Sipho Kings for the Mail & Guardian titled: South Africa All At Sea.

The report which won recognition for Best Community Impact, focused on illegal fishing activities along South Africa’s coast.

Kings’ reportage helped dispel public confusion around South Africa 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.

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As a result of the report, South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, DAFF, in collaboration with the country’s Navy has increased security patrols along the coast which has led to a string of arrests of illegal fishing trawlers and their operators.

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.