Code for Africa data journalist Soila Kenya scooped the 2018 African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting (ACCER) Award in the print category for penning a piece that focused on the impact of air pollution on children in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.
Ms. Kenya won the award for an article titled “Fumes pupils inhale akin to smoking two cigarettes in a day” that was published in The Star Newspaper in early June.
Ms. Kenya told Business Today, “It feels surreal; a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t really expecting to win and I’m still wrapping my head around it.”
The award-winning article analysed the effect of air pollution in Nairobi, where over 700,000 children under the age of 10 are exposed to toxic fumes daily. According to the piece, this placed the children at risk of suffering from psychological problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression.
The data journalist said she conducted research and wrote the article over a period of about two months. “It’s also good to know all that time spent didn’t go to waste and I was able to write a good journalistic piece.”
Another Kenyan journalist, Caroline Gachaga of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) was first runners-up in the radio category.
Ms. Kenya and Ms. Gachaga were among a number of winners from across Africa who were feted at the ACCER Awards gala night held on October 11 at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
Ethiopia’s Demis Mekuriyaw was the overall winner at the awards ceremony, with the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) journalist also topping the TV category.
Agbota Ernest who works for the Office of Broadcasting and Television of Benin-ORTB Parakou, Benin clinched the radio category.
Health Ministry Chief Adminstrative Secretary Mohammed Elmi said, “Media houses should be given incentives to support their journalists in covering environmental and climate change issues.”
The awards were a culmination of a three-day training workshop that was held for the 15 journalists who had been shortlisted for the awards that were organised by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
“My main take-away from the training is that it’s not too early to specialize in whatever type of journalism you want to. I’m particularly interested in Science Journalism so the conference helped in exposing me to players in the Environment / Climate change arena while also giving me several story ideas,” said Ms. Kenya.