Call for Reporting Grant Applications: Investigating Plastic Pollution in Lake Victoria


InfoNile invites female journalists from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania to submit in-depth story proposals on plastic pollution of Lake Victoria.

These stories are part of a series of stories meant to highlight the impact of plastic pollution, local innovations,  and will feed into a final data journalism project including interactive maps and stories.

Whereas plastic has  many valuable uses, it is also a global environmental hazard. According to UNEP,  over 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced globally every year, nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire population in the world. Because of the plastics’ resistance to degradation, most of it never fully disappears; it just gets smaller and smaller. 

Research has proven the presence of microplastics in Lake Victoria  and within the fish species that inhabit them. However, microplastic contamination in the African Great Lakes is currently underreported compared to other regions of the world. We would therefore like you to tell the stores of plastic pollution in the local communities in and round Lake Victoria. 

Your stories shall coincide with the FlipFlopi Expedition which we are part of. Flipflopi is a dhow – a traditional East African sailboat – made entirely from discarded plastic that is sailing around Lake Victoria to raise awareness about marine litter.

The grants will be given to local journalists on the different stopovers to hear the local stories on plastic pollution and how the local communities are affected by the polluted water. Please see the route for the expedition here and (if possible) identify stories that highlight plastic pollution issues, or local solutions, that affect some of the areas along the expedition route. 

We want you to

1. Connect the science, research and data to the reality of the plastic pollution and the interventions being made in your local community 

2.  Conduct an original investigation around plastic pollution and its effects on the biodiversity and communities around Lake Victoria OR Highlight some of the local solutions to plastic pollution at lakeside and island communities

3.  Communicate your story to national and local audiences 

Possible questions to answer in your story: 

  • How does plastic pollution affect the local communities? How does it affect biodiversity?
  • How are lakeside communities adapting to the problems brought about by plastic pollution? Which innovations are they taking up to overcome this problem?
  • Which data, scientific research or other evidence can you find that proves that the problem is happening, and/or impact of these solutions? 

Integration of Data: Your story pitch should contain a plan to integrate data analysis and visualizations of plastic pollution and its effects to the people and biodiversity of the region. “Geo-coded” or geographical data is the most preferred, since we will use it to create interactive maps and visualizations. However, please feel free to integrate any other sources of credible data.

The output 

Your output should be an in-depth story focusing on the extent and impacts of plastic pollution in your area, and/or highlighting a unique solution or alternative to the overuse of plastic.

Please note that if you receive facilitation to report your story, you will receive assistance in producing  graphics, data visualization and mapping. Stories can be published in other languages but will also o be translated to English.

This project is supported by Code for Africa as part of the Water Commons project.

The extended deadline for submitting your story pitch is 8th February, 2021.

InfoNile is a collaborative cross-border group of environmental “geo” journalists with a mission to uncover critical stories on water issues in the Nile River Basin of Africa through data-based multimedia storytelling. We work on investigative multimedia data journalism projects on critical issues of water and environment across the Nile Basin. Past investigations have included issues of land grabs across the Basin, community-based solutions to wetland destruction in East Africa, and the environmental and health impacts of Sudan’s oil and gas industry

How to Apply for the Grant: 

Submit the following to

-A proposal outlining your story idea (no more than one page). Proposals should be clearly structured, stating briefly at the outset what the story idea is, followed by how and where the story will be researched, what it aims to reveal or contribute, where you will publish (specific media organizations), and the intended impact of the story. The proposal should also include a plan for incorporating data. Please note how you will use multimedia (video, photos, audio, and graphics along with text). You should also include:

-A  proposed budget of no more than $400

-Your resumé/CV;

-Two samples of published/broadcast work. Only Links to the published stories will be accepted

-Letter of support from your editors, stating that your media houses will publish / telecast / broadcast your story.

NOTE ON COVID-19: Please note that we will be proceeding with awarding these grants. However, we will work with selected journalists individually to assist in safe ways of reporting and adapting projects during the ongoing pandemic.  

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