2009 small Grants
The FAIR Advisory Council adjudication of investigative story grant proposals in 2009 resulted in two clear winners of the Eur 3000 grants. The winning journalists had in common that they had both already done considerable preliminary investigative work. This resulted in project proposals that were deemed both investigative, important and practical. The fact that both requested to hold off publicity regarding the subject of their investigations whilst the investigations were in process, also showed that the journalists in question were well aware of the terrain they were exploring and the risks attached to such explorations.
The smaller grant projects of Eur 500,- each were awarded to journalists who showed that they could practically investigate subjects of general importance by exploring local injustices on a relatively small budget. Instead of the eight grants as envisaged, the Council opted to award nine grants, as a total of nine proposals were deemed to be of good investigative value. The ninth grant of Eur 500,- was made available as an ‘extra’ to the grants fund by the FAIR Board.
- Maxwell Ngambi from Malawi designed an investigation around vehicle license fraud. The council found that here was a corruption investigation that could result in valuable fact finding public interest around an issue that results in many road accident deaths.
- Alvin Chiinga from Zambia’s proposal to explore injustices around casual labour in mines also went down well with the adjudicators, as did Stanley Kwenda’s proposed investigation into how Zimbabwean government policies have affected and are affecting people living with HIV/Aids.
- Health investigations in general were strong contenders. In choosing winning applications, the Council focused on hard investigative content of the propoals as opposed to proposals that aimed to primarily create awareness around a health issue. In applying investigative criteria, the Council decided that a clear winner here was also Rex Chikoko’s lack of access to medication in Malawi as a result of corruption. Another winner on a health issue was Christophe Assogba from Benin, who wanted to explore the continuing practices of female genital mutilation and early marriage of girl children, asking why these practices continue in spite of the many continuous awareness campaigns.
- Edouard Denoua Gonto from Ivory Coast was awarded a grant to investigate abusive police practices in his country, and Aniefiok Udonquak received a grant to investigate the misuse of farm subsidies in Nigeria.
- Kokouvi Eklou from Benin will investigate the illegal petrol trade in his country and Walter Chereuyot from Kenya will look at the embezzlement of donated funds, meant for an orphanage, by church leaders.
Among proposals that the Council did not award grants to were those that centered on well-known issues, such as discrimination of certain minority groups, that had already been in the media for a long time. “Only projects that aim to break new ground should receive FAIR Grants”, in the words of one Councillor, “otherwise the risk of unoriginality is too great.”
2008 small Grants
There were nine more entries than in 2007, when FAIR launched the grants for the first time. The applicants who made it on to the individual shortlists were the following:
- Naftali Kure Drug resistant malaria, Kenya
- Aniefiok Udonquak Drug resistant malaria, Nigeria
- Theophilus Abbah Debt relief funds’ use by the government, Nigeria
- Monulphe Bosso Deforestation by multinationals in DRC
- Tanya Farber The SA life as refugees of Zimbabwean torture victims
- Sylvestre Sossou Child labour on and child traffic to Beninese plantations
- Adeola Akinremi Cigarette smuggling into Nigeria
- Raffaela Delle Donne Municipal by-laws victimizing homeless in South Africa
- Eric Mwamba The black money channels of Cote d’Ivoires cocoa wealth
- Arsene Severin Pygmee children and their access to education in Congo-B
- Danny Sinyangwe Pollution by mines in Zambia
- Magdy Samaan Human traffic from Sudan to Israel
- Andrew Phiri Murder and police negligence in Zambia
- Stanley Kwenda Torture in Zimbabwe
The adjudicators strongly recommended that FAIR should issue letters of appreciation and recommendation to all the shortlisted applicants for whom the present grants fund is not sufficient, supporting their efforts to find funding elsewhere. The adjudicators also recommended that FAIR itself should approach donors and partner organizations to recommend funding for these projects.
According to the judges, FAIR itself must, if it finds funding to enlarge its grant fund in 2008 as intended, go back to this list and fund the projects, whereby precedence should be given to those who figured on more than one individual shortlist, and, after that, according to the points given by each adjudicator.
Ranking of finalists
The FAIR grants in the 2008 round were allocated to the following finalists, who ranked 1, 2 and 3:
1. Naftali Kure, Kenya: fake medicines and their effect on the growth of drug-resistant malaria.
2. Aniefiok Udonquak, Nigeria: fake medicines, drug-resistant malaria and their effect on the economy.
3. Theophilus Abbah, Nigeria: the use of debt relief funds by the Nigerian government.
The judges awarded the first grant, of a total of Eur 7000,- to Kure and Udonquak together, on the condition that they cooperate to produce an article that will be relevant to both (and possibly more) African countries and that will also be publishable internationally. The judges remarked that fake drugs and drug resistant malaria were one of the most pressing problems facing the African public today. They added that investigation of fake drugs and drug origins, through the testing of drugs found on the market as proposed by Kure, and investigation of the effects of this problem on the economy, as proposed by Udonquak, would be extremely relevant and interesting.
The judges also found Theophilus Abbah’s proposed investigation, into the use of debt relief funds by the Nigerian government, the second-highest ranking, both in importance and practicality. They awarded a grant of Eur 3000,- to this project.
Because the FAIR grants fund only amounts to Eur 8000,- and there will therefore be a foreseeable shortfall of Eur 2000,- the judges resolved that FAIR be asked to find the additional moneys elsewhere as soon as possible. In the meantime, the judges asked that FAIR itself guarantee the pay out to the grantees as per the grant guidelines. The Executive Committee of the FAIR Board agreed to do this.
Advisory Council members adjudicating in the 2008 grants round were:
- Joe Hanlon
- Patricia Made
- Tito Ndombi
- Nixon Kariithit