Four Nigerian journalists have been awarded prizes of 1,750 dollars 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 prices, respectively. 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”.
Third place winner, Iruoma, used photos, charts and videos for his multimedia story on the Benue region, ICFJ said. Vanessa Offiong of Daily Trust won ‘Honourable Mention’ for her story: “When Antenatal is a Luxury: The IDP Story”. 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.
“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,” it said. ICFJ said: “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 organisation explained that 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”. Iruoma’s story, published by Ripples Nigeria, 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, it added.