Picturing hope in the Nile Basin

Written by Bhavna Bhasin, on 9 June 2022

The Nile River has been a source of many stories, some that have been amplified and others that did not make the headlines. InfoNile, a cross-border group of geo-journalists, is working to change that by using data-based multimedia storytelling to tell stories surrounding water issues in the Nile River Basin.

Funded by IHE Delft’s Water and Development Partnership Programme, InfoNile provides story grants and mentorship to journalists working with cross-cutting themes like water, biodiversity and climate change. “The trainings we received changed my whole perspective on storytelling:  it not only deepened my observation, but it also showed me how packaging a story differently influences its trajectory,” said Watsemba Miriam, a participating photojournalist from Uganda.

 

Orbited by communities from 11 different countries, the Nile River Basin has been and is a site of both conflict and cooperation. InfoNile is guided by the ethics of solutions journalism - journalism that tells stories of collaboration and hope, thereby demonstrating how problems can be tackled peacefully. “Often when you hear about the Nile Basin, you hear stories about dams and differences, which further fuel conflicts, but this project has enabled us to shift the narrative by telling stories of people whose lives the Nile River influences,” said Alis Okonji, the Communication Lead at InfoNile.

 

Climate change and photographs

In 2021, 10 journalists set out to document the quotidian life unfolding along the banks of Nile. Published under the hashtag #EverydayNile, this outreach project organized a series of photo exhibitions, starting with an exhibition in Uganda, to promote cooperation and a deeper understanding of water issues surrounding their shared resource. Among the exhibits was Miriam’s story ‘Sinking Land’, which documented the communal response to the rising water levels of Lake Victoria. She explained that she pursues photojournalism because it gives her “…the opportunity to let people know that they are heard, they are seen and that their truth is valid.”

Regional photo exhibition in Cairo, 14 – 20 July, 2022

“Journalistic outputs are often inaccessible for the people whose stories they claim to amplify, so the whole idea of our community exhibitions is to take these stories back to the ground,” said Okonji.

The next #EverydayNile exhibition will be held at the Goethe Institute in Cairo, Egypt. The exhibition will feature the work of ten photojournalists, exploring everyday life around the Nile in Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt. Beyond community engagement, the exhibition is aimed at facilitating an open dialogue between journalists and environmental scientists. Interested? The exihibition begins on June 14 at 19:00 EET, you can register here.

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