African Journalists win Fellowships to report on COP-17

By | 18 November 2011

Pretoria – UNDP’s Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) has awarded fellowships to nine journalists from eight African countries to attend the COP17 climate change negotiations in Durban.

Under the AAP’s Media Capacity Building Project the journalists, from Morocco, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, will spend one week at the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change where they will report on the intergovernmental negotiations and receive training and editorial support.

From its base in Nairobi, the Media Capacity Building Project is supporting the professional development of journalists in all 20 AAP countries. The project seeks to introduce a thorough knowledge of the climate change debate to African print, broadcast and web-based journalists and other media professionals. This involves not only helping them build their capacities to track this issue as it evolves, but to play their unique and indispensable role in providing a forum for discussion, informing debate with context and analysis, and contributing to public accountability by reporting on progress or the lack of it.

‘The AAP fellowship improves the skills of journalists as they grapple with complex climate change issues,’ says Jacqueline Frank, coordinator of AAP’s media programme. ‘It provides a unique opportunity for African journalists to report on events of crucial importance to their countries and to do so with access to those directly affected by the issues, those actively campaigning to redress them and those who can shape the global response; all the while benefitting from professional, logistical and factual support.’


Five of the journalists will first join the ‘Have Faith: Act Now’ campaign’s youth caravan, a convoy of buses on a 17-day overland trek from Nairobi to Durban, through Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana, culminating in a massive inter-faith rally in Durban on 27 November. The campaign was instigated by a pan-African movement of faith communities, leaders and youth who have mobilised to express the widespread desire among Africans for a just and robust outcome at the climate negotiations. These five young journalists were selected out of 30 applicants from around Africa. They will report on the aims and activities of the campaigners and how these relate to the situations in the countries they pass through and the discussions and outcomes at the COP.

‘I hope we will be able to carry people’s voices all the way to Durban and deliver them to the negotiators’, says Simegnish Yekoye, a 27-year-old Ethiopian journalist joining the caravan. ‘I want COP17 to be different, and I want to contribute to that by showing the leaders responsible how people at the grassroots level are suffering from global warming and how much they need an immediate solution. I want to show them this isn’t about power or money or how great one country is; this about the survival of human beings and The Earth we live on.’

For more information on the AAP’s Media Capacity Building Project visit

For more information on the We Have Faith campaign visit


Jacqueline Frank
Media Capacity Building Programme Coordinator / +254 702 151 595

Nancy Njeri
‘We Have Faith’ Media Liaison / +254 723 993 689


Young journalists joining We Have Faith caravan

Audrey Wabwire from Nairobi, Kenya

Audrey has been working in journalism for 11 years and is currently a producer for radio production house Well Told Story Limited. She has previously worked as a news reporter with Radio Waumini and as a writer for the Africa Media Service and was accepted into the Aga Khan Foundation’s Young Development Professionals Program in 2009-2010. Audrey has benefitted from a number of professional workshops including the East for South project workshop and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association workshop.

Lily Mengesha from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Lily is the founding member of the Ethiopian Environmental Journalists Association as well as children’s charity the Light for Generation Association. She is currently working for The Citizen in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania under an exchange program sponsored by the Norwegian government. Lily has previously worked with the Addis Ababa HIV/AIDS prevention control Office, The Reporternewspaper and fashion magazines. She also worked with BBC correspondent Mohammed Ado in Ethiopia and as a translator for BBC correspondent Amber Henshaw.

Tina Ogbonna from Lagos, Nigeria

Tina has been working as a journalist since 2009 when she undertook a traineeship with the Federal Radio Cooperation of Nigeria (FRCN). She has since worked with the Nigeria Television Authority as a field reporter and as a production assistant on a marine documentary series. Now, she has returned to the FRCN where she reports on maritime and environmental issues. Tina is a member of the Nigeria Federation of Science Journalists, the New Science Journalism Project and also freelances with CNN iRreport.

Bernice Atabong from Ebolowa, Cameroon

Bernice has been a reporter and broadcaster for Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) since 2006 and previously worked with Radio Television Siantou and at the Cameroon Tribune. She has been involved in environmental awareness activities and youth empowerment throughout her career. She is a member of youth NGO Sans Frontier with which she has worked on community education and environmental awareness raising campaigns and is also a member of the Cameroon English Speaking Journalists association.

Youssouph Bodian from Dakar, Senegal

Youssouph is a correspondent for Future Radio Media in Fatick, Senegal. He has previously worked with Radio Senegal, RTS Ziguinchor (radio) and Le Soleil, a Senegalese daily newspaper. Youssouph also contributed to the creation of the news-blog DakarBondyBlog. He has been involved in various environmental activities including a two-year teaching position in liaison with WWF, marine preservation and protection campaigns and climate change-related activities. He will next year undertake a Masters in Environmental Health at CESTI.


COP attendees

Emmanuel Wongibe, Cameroon

Emmanuel has worked as a broadcast journalist for 25 years and is currently Director of Cooperation and public relations and Deputy Editor-in-Chief for TV magazines. He has been a field producer and correspondent for CNN and Deutsche Welle as well as a host of other broadcasters. He began covering environmental issues in the early 1990s and has worked as a journalism trainer on these issues. Emmanuel’s environmental reporting has been recognised by numerous organisations and in 2004 he received the US Ambassador’s Excellence Award in ‘recognition of his extraordinary efforts and personal commitment to enhancing the skills of journalists and advancing democracy and human rights in Cameroon’.

Erick Kabendera, Tanzania

Erick is a Tanzanian freelance journalist who specialises on science and development issues. Last year he spent part of his seven month-Tanzania Media Fund Fellowship for Rural Reporting writing on how changes in climate patterns were affecting small-scale farmers in rural Tanzania. He was a winner of the David Astor Journalism Award in 2009, which saw him posted to UK newspapers The Independent and The Times for three months. He has also won several awards for science reporting and in 2008 spent three months at the United Nations’ Headquarters after winning the prestigious Dag Hammarskjöld Fellowship for Journalism, where he reported on African development issues including climate change. Erick has served as news editor for Tanzania’s The Guardian newspaper and science and education features writer for The Citizen. His articles have also appeared in IPS AfricaThe Africa Report, Africa ConfidentialThe New African and The Times of London.

Ben Nessir Chokri, Tunisia

A journalist for 26 years, Ben began covering environmental issues in 1991. His environmental reporting has been recognised by numerous organisations and has seen him receive a number of awards as well as become a university lecturer on environmental journalism. Ben used to run the European service of Saudi Arabia’s Ryadh Radio and was head of the Tunisian Foreign Promotion Agency. He is currently Editor-in-Chief of Courrier de Tunisie and La Presse daily newspapers

Francis Tuffour, Ghana

A graduate of the University of Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Journalism and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (Environmental Management Studies), Francis has reported extensively on environment and climate change issues. He is the founder of the Ghana Institute of Journalism branch of the Federation of Environmental Journalists. Francis has won numerous awards for his reportage including Ghana’s Best Crime and Court Reporting for 2011, Best Journalist – Print Reporting in 2010 and Best Journalist – Finance and Economic Reporting in 2006. He was also awarded the Ziem Yaan-Tol Media Award by the UN Population Fund in 2006 for his reporting on population, reproductive health and gender issues.

About the Africa Adaptation Programme

The AAP is a flagship programme of UNDP, in partnership with UNIDO, UNICEF and WFP, with funds provided by the Government of Japan. It was initiated by the Government of Japan and UNDP at the Fourth Tokyo International Conference for African Development in 2008.

The AAP supports the governments of 20 countries across Africa in strengthening the effectiveness of their development efforts, crucial to their transformation from vulnerability to greater resilience to climate change and other threats to human well-being. It is not a traditional climate change adaptation programme – the AAP has a more strategic focus aimed at creating the environment in which more informed and appropriate adaptation decisions and practices can be undertaken within the context of sustainable development.

The AAP’s work focuses on building capacity in five areas – risk identification through data analysis, strengthening institutions and leadership, building knowledge and information management systems, putting policy into practice and accessing finance – all crucial to optimising effectiveness and maximising development returns on investments of scarce resources. It is a comprehensive, country-supportive adaptation initiative with the aim to lay the foundations for long-term investment in climate resilience and to protect development progress across Africa.

For more information on the AAP visit  

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