Ahead of the 20th African Water Association International Congress and Exhibition (AfWA-ICE2020) beginning Monday in Kampala, Uganda, Speak Up Africa and its partners on Friday launched their maiden Sanitation Media Fellowship focused on building the capacities of African journalists to increase reporting on water and sanitation issues on the continent.
Speak Up Africa is a strategic communications and advocacy organization based in Dakar, Senegal. It is dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development issues in Africa including sanitation, immunization, Malaria, and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
“Through launching this  Sanitation Fellowship Award, we aim to build capacity among [African] journalists and increase reporting on sanitation issues across Africa. The award offers an opportunity for African journalists to learn from leading experts on the key challenges and opportunities Africa faces when it comes to improving sanitation,” says Speak Up Africa.
Lack of access to adequate water and sanitation facilities represents a major indicator of poverty and poor public health on the continent. With about 4.5 billion people – more than half of the world`s population – not having access to safe sanitation facilities and services, sanitation became a key focus area for Speak Up Africa.
It was on this premise that the nonprofit initiated the continent-wide Sanitation Media Fellowship Award under the Communications, Advocacy, and Policy Opportunities and Outreach for Poop (CAPOOP) to build the capacities of journalists from across Africa and encourage media engagements on sanitation issues. The CAPOOP is a voluntary alliance of organizations committed to achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and ending open defecation by 2030.
“CAPOOP aims to celebrate successes, influence policies and practices, create and disseminate knowledge as well as showcase innovative approaches for sustainable sanitation in Africa,” said Aida Kabo, program officer for sanitation at Speak Up Africa.
Speak Up Africa and CAPOOP received about 100 applications for the 2020 Sanitation Media Fellowship from across Africa; however, only 8 applications were successful. The selected journalists were Kenneth Kavulu (Uganda), Amani Mounkaila (Niger Republic), Mouniratu Lougue (Burkina Faso), and Abdullahi Tsanni (Nigeria). Others include Likpete Kokou Jesdias (Benin Republic), Jessica Ahedor (Ghana), Nadege Christelle Bowa Tchantchou (Cameroon), and Jenipher Asiimwe (Uganda).
Speak Up Africa will provide technical and financial assistance to each of the selected fellows, to help them conduct and publish a research project which meets the fellowship objectives of promoting the need for improved sanitation and awareness among the rural public on the health risks of poor sanitation.
“We believe that no one should be left behind – everyone, at all levels of society, deserves access to safely managed sanitation and clean drinking water. So we need to communicate these issues, no change can take place without the media and journalists,” noted Kabo.
The African Union recently launched the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention …