Over the past two years, JRS has supported Water Journalists Africa (WJA) in their efforts to connect journalists to scientists and grow data-based environmental journalism about freshwater biodiversity issues in the Nile Basin. With JRS funding, WJA is expanding the geojournalism platform InfoNile.org, increasing media coverage of biodiversity and water issues, and training both scientists and journalists. Many of the investigations resulting from this project have been published and are featured on InfoNile. On August 23, 2021, with about one year to go of this three-year grant, a roundtable discussion took place at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala, Uganda. Attendees included journalists, InfoNile staff, and JRS Executive Director Matthew Cassetta.
One of the main topics covered by journalists present at the roundtable discussion is plastic pollution in Lake Victoria. Asiimwe Jenifer investigated the origin of plastic pollution in Plastic Pollution of Lake Victoria in Uganda: Who is to Blame?, and Megan Lee recently produced InfoNile’s documentary featuring the Flipflopi, the world’s first 100% recycled plastic boat, which sailed more than 500 kilometers around Lake Victoria in March to bring together communities in the fight against plastic pollution.
Other freshwater topics include the lasting impacts of floods in Uganda’s southwestern district of Kasese. Andrew Aijuka with InfoNile has been investigating the effects of River Nyamwamba floods on the neighboring communities in Kasese district, including impacts on public facilities and displacement camps for flood victims that are still operating over a year after the floods.
Other stories reach beyond freshwater, like one published by Gerald Tenywa, which investigates sugarcane farming expansion and encroachment in Uganda’s Bugoma Forest. Others, like Adella Orishaba, produced a documentary that was aired by a local TV station in Western Uganda that focused on public health issues and solutions during pandemic lockdowns. And there are many more stories to come, thanks to InfoNile staff like Ruth Mwizeere, who is currently researching data on fish species in East Africa as part of WJA’s Threats to Biodiversity in Nile Basin Lakes project.
Make sure to check back with these geojournalists at InfoNile for more critical stories that inspire action along the world’s longest river.