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AWiM Labour Migration Reporting Awards

  • Overview of the awards and training

This project aimed to establish a network of media professionals covering labour and migration in Africa. To achieve this, the project developed a media award, an online training and resource hub and a research project into the lived experiences of African women journalists covering Labour Migration in Africa. This project was done in partnership with the African Union, ILO, IOM as part of the JLMP initiative. A newsletter series was also developed as a part of a community engagement strategy. The objective was to highlight existing and missing narratives in media coverage of labour migration stories in Africa. It highlighted success stories of how Africa is managing migration, not forgetting the challenges.

  1. The Labour Migration Media Award- This was a media award to celebrate African Journalists reporting on labour migration in Africa. The call for the entries received a total of 78 entries under the following categories:
  • Migrants’ Rights.
  • Remittance and Diaspora Contributions to Development.
  • Governance of Labour Migration.
  • Gender-based Migration.
  • Economic Impact of Migration.
  • Migration and Health.
  • Intra-African Migration.
  • Fair recruitment, forced labour and human trafficking of migrant workers.

The Labour Migration Reporting online Training Online Programme-The LMR training program consisted of five courses that were developed by expert external consultants and delivered through our learning management platform, AWiM Learning. The training was self-paced with live webinar sessions with the consultants every week. The call for entries received 134 entries and 100 journalists were selected for the one-month training. The five courses that were developed were as follows:

  • Reporting on labour migration policy and impact
  • Understanding human and labour rights of migrant workers.
  • Labour migration 101 for journalists
  • Covering migration during health pandemics (focused on how to identify stories)
  • Ethics and coverage of labour migration, including using the right vocabulary.
  1. The Research on the lived experiences of journalists covering Labour Migration in Africa– This research was carried out to answer the following questions:
  • What are the perspectives of media editors on the coverage of labour migration?
  • What are the demographics of journalists covering labour migration?
  • What are the lived experiences of women journalists covering labour migration in Africa?

Labour Migration Research report

Labour migration journalism is a unique aspect of the journalism profession that involves gathering and presentation of information and data pertaining to migration. Over the years, more emphasis has been placed on the migrant stories, but not much has been said about the stories, and the lived experiences and perceptions of the editors, journalists, and other media workers who have been fully engaged in reporting labour migration events. This study sought to shed light on the regular realities of what it is to be a labour migration journalist in Africa.  

The study incorporated a mix of an online survey, a focus group discussion, and three virtual in-depth interviews. Respondents from countries in the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, and Central regions of Africa participated in the survey mix. The respondents were a combination of journalists, editors, and other media professionals working with a variety of media outlets from countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, and Egypt.  

Findings show that 73% of respondents agreed that high unemployment rates are a major cause of labour migration in Africa. Followed by this is the search for better pay, which a 23% consensus of respondents also agreed upon. About 1.9% of respondents blame the rampant nature of labour migration in Africa on cultural hegemony. When speaking on the representation of Africa in terms of labour migration, indications are that 73% believed that Africa had not been portrayed well. Contrary to this stance is the opinions of 17% of respondents who felt that Africa is well portrayed.  

Journalists also shared the challenges of having limited access to data and funding, little remuneration, discrimination, unreliable sources, and the non-receptiveness of their editors.

The Research can be found here

    • podcasts (embed the iframe for each episode so they can play on the website – YA)

Labour Migration Awards

Wagdy Sawahel: Winner of the Labour Migration Governance category is an award-winning journalist, biotechnology expert, senior lead consultant and advisor with about 15 years of experience working as a freelancer reporting about higher education, science, technology, innovation, and knowledge economy for developing countries with a focus on Africa. He has published about 800 reports on science, technology, innovation, higher education and the knowledge economy. I’m also the author of the first Arabic encyclopedia in genetic engineering “15 books”.

He has been recognised for his journalism work by obtaining the 2020 Labour Migration Reporting award in the category “Governance of Labour Migration”, the first runner-up in the 2019 Continental Journalism Award on the African Union Charter; and the Dr Ahmed Zahran prize in scientific culture from the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research & Technology in 1999. You can read Dr Wagdy Sawahel’s full profile here

The story that won the 2020 Labour Migration Reporting Award is titled, “AFRICA-GLOBAL: COVID-19 drives medical brain drain – is it all bad?” published in University World News (African edition) on 25 June 2020. The story unveils a new and different trends of migration governance in the globalised landscape by probing the mobility and outward migration of health workers from Africa to the Western hemisphere during the coronavirus pandemic. Link to winning entry here

Hoda Zakaria: Hoda Zakaria won the top spot in the Fair recruitment, forced Labour and Human trafficking of migrant workers category. She is an investigative reporter at Alyoum Alsabaa Egyptian newspaper. I graduated from the mass communication faculty at Cairo University in 2010. She is also a scriptwriter, content manager and senior at the Documentary unit of Youm7 Newspaper. She has received many awards such as Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism Network with the International Center for Journalists (2013); best electronic investigation from the Women’s Commission at UN (2015); Arab journalism award (2016); Egyptian Journalists Syndicate award (2016), Egyptian Journalists Syndicate award (2017), and Award of the Danish-Egyptian Institute for Dialogue. Read Hoda’s full profile here

Hoda Zakaria’s winning story “The Terrible Tragedy of Human Trafficking” is an investigative report that reveals shocking secrets of smuggling Nigerian girls into Europe and the Middle East. The story also exposes the syndicate selling victims of Boko Haram by brokers using forged documents and the monthly royalties received for forced labour amounting to 150 billion dollars as total annual profits. In this investigative report, “Youm 7” documents the complete journey of the victims with video and audio, from leaving their home countries until brokers take over and hand them over to families to work as servants. The report also observes all the illegal abuses and offences that girls are subject to. It is noted that those girls are being treated the same as commodities bought and sold.

Afeez Hanafi: Won the Intra-Africa Migration Category. Afeez Hanafi is a Nigerian and Lagos-based journalist. Born on February 26, 1988, in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria’s North-Central. He grew up and had his primary and secondary school education in the state capital (Ilorin). He studied English at the University of Ilorin and taught it in secondary schools for three years. He began his journalism career in 2014 after bagging a second degree in English from the same institution. As a development journalist, He reports on a range of areas, including communities, crime, human/civil rights, economy and environment. He has received local and international awards on these beats and attended media training as well as conferences across the subjects over the years. Read the full interview here

Afeez Hanafi story titled “Xenophobia: Our classmates bully, tell us to go back to our country — Nigerian pupil,” the story brings to fore the height of discrimination by fellow Africans. It is a foray into endemic racism even among people with common geographical and historical backgrounds. The report captures the dehumanising encounters of Nigerians, especially children, in South Africa on the heels of xenophobia. It documents the migrant life of children and their parents filled with bile, rejection and hatred amid the attendant abuse of their rights and wanton destruction of means of livelihood. I was curious to have first-hand information from South African returnees away from an avalanche of claims that flooded the Internet during the xenophobic attacks.

Abdel Aziz Hali: Abdel Aziz Hali is a 40 year old man and the Executive Editor of the geopolitics & international news desk at La Presse de Tunisie since 2010 (French-language newspaper, founded in 1936) and the winner of the Economic Impact of Migration Category. He is also the founder and the Editor-in-Chief of Mangeonsbien.com since december 16, 2016. It is the first Tunisian Webzine (Web-Magazine) dedicated to Food & Drinks culture, gastronomy and dietetics with a very attentive look at local products, wines, oils and cuisines of the world.

On October 6, 2011, he won the Prize “Democracy and social change” for his report “Once upon a time two revolutions: Facebook my Republic, Twitter my Arab League”, published in the newspaper La Presse de Tunisie. The prize was awarded during the Anna Lindh Journalist Awards ceremony (Euro-Mediterranean Journalist Award) with the presence of SAS Albert II at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. It was the first time that a Tunisian journalist had been nominated and awarded since the creation of the Prize in 2006. Read more here

Abdel Aziz Hali winning story tells a story of migrants rising above their circumstances. “Nearly 6.6 million Syrians have fled the war, according to statistics (mid-2020) from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Between the exactions of the “shabbiha” (groups of armed men in civilian clothing, who act for the government of the Baath Party of Syria, led by the family of Bashar al-Assad) and the barbaric invasions of the “takfirists” (Islamists who follow an ultra-violent ideology), for several Levantines, the exodus has become a necessary evil. If the vast majority of Syrian refugees headed for the Old-Continent (Europe) to Germany, others preferred to leave for Tunisia. This is the case of Mazen, Raafat, Tarak and Abdel-Monaêm, who, with the help of the local office of the humanitarian organisation ADRA (Adventist Agency for Aid and Development) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have succeeded in their socio-economic integration via restaurant projects specialising in Syrian culinary art.”

Chahreddin Berriah: Winner of the Migrant right category. Chahreddin is a journalist reporter and regional editor of the daily El Watan in Tlemcen, since 1992. In 1999, with the arrival of the first sub-Saharan migrants in his town Maghnia (located on the border with Morocco), he began to take an interest in the migration issue. He made his first report “Le camp de la shame”. In fact, he smuggled across the Algerian-Moroccan border to enter the Spanish enclave of Melilla (Spain) and stayed in the migrant camp. Back in Algeria, he made his second report, still in hiding, going by road to Mali to find out the route of the sub-Saharans. “The Malian sector” In 2012, he published in France, my first story “Prohibited routes”

He has won the Migration Media Award twice in a row (2017 in Malta and 2018 in Tunis) for reports on migrants. Three times laureates of Dunes voices (2016-2017-2018).  Since then, he has been asked to lead conferences on the migration issue in Algeria, Spain (Barcelona) and West Africa (Senegal, Congo Brazzaville, etc.)

Chahreddin Berriah’s story tells the migrant story and about friendship “I have the happiness or… maybe the misfortune to live in Maghnia (300,000 inhabitants) a border town with Morocco where there is an informal camp for sub-Saharan migrants in an irregular situation (the Oued jorgi camp). They were more than 2,000 people all guided by the idea of ​​crossing the border and reaching the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta.

I went down to the camp regularly to work with the migrants (articles and reports). I also helped them by bringing them food and blankets in winter. And that’s where I got to know Maria, the Cameroonian. She became a friend, like most of the other occupants of Oued Jorgi. One day, the Algerian authorities decided to deport the migrants to southern Algeria (Tamanrasset) and then to their respective countries. But, I will learn more trade, that all these migrants had been repatriated to Agadez in Niger”. Read more here

Abdoulaye Balbone: Abdoulaye Balbone won first place in the Diaspora Remittances and Contributions category. He is an economist by training (development planning option). In 2011, he was on the waiting list for the executive examination of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance. But this competition is such that it is rare for those admitted to resign for another competition. The following year he decided to do something else, and a friend advised him to submit his files for the journalism competition. This is how he received the said competition in 2012. After 30 months of training, he was assigned to the state daily, “Sidwaya”, in 2015. Read more here

Abdoulaye Balbone: “My article deals with the investments of Burkinabè abroad, particularly in Italy in their village of origin. In Burkina Faso, two neighbouring villages, Béguédo and Niaogho, stand out for the achievements of their sons living in Italy and abroad. These two localities are real cities, thanks to their nationals’ individual and collective dynamism living abroad. They have a head start in terms of development compared to other villages in the country. These villages even compete with some towns in Burkina Faso. Indeed there are beautiful villas of European types, boreholes and drinking water towers, schools, health centres and many other achievements built by the Burkinabè diaspora. The article also sheds light on how this Burkinabè diaspora is organised to mobilise funds to develop their villages. They have set up associations in Italy in which monthly or annual contributions are requested from the various members. They transfer the collected resources to the country for targeted development projects. A sister association provides the contracting authority for these infrastructures at the local level or by the town hall.”

Judie Kaberia: Judie’s story titled “New human trafficking routes identified in Kenya” won the top spot in the health and migration category. Judie is a multiple-award-winning journalist and media trainer currently working for Journalists for Human Rights (JHR) in its Kenyan project – Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights. I am also a fellow in the Resilience Fellowship of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime – researching and reporting on human trafficking and harvesting of human organs in East Africa. I am a mentor of the U.S Embassy – Kenya mentorship programme for upcoming female journalists. I currently chair the Woman’s Newsroom Foundation and the Africa Check Foundation board in Kenya, a subsidiary of Africa Check Trust. I hold a Master’s Degree in New Media, Governance and Democracy from the University of Leicester, U.K. Read more here.

Judie Kaberia’s story tells us about the effect of the pandemic on the beggers community “The first cases of coronavirus in Kenya were reported in March. By April, the usually busy Nairobi – the Capital of Kenya – had been reduced to almost a ghost town. We were scared of contracting the virus. But whenever I went to the Central Business District, I observed that it was business as usual for beggars – living with different disabilities. I was disturbed that they neither had masks nor hand sanitisers and were extremely exposed to the virus because they were handling cash. Some of them were crawling on the streets with their bare hands. I interacted with them and expressed my concerns about the looming risk of contracting coronavirus. They told me they had no choice since they had to make money to pay their ‘masters’. I decided to follow the story” Read here.

    • Newsletter

The newsletter edition for this project was presented in a four-part series. Check out the summaries, and links to the downloadable pdf versions can be found below.

    • Labour Migration Newsletter #1: Africa has a long history of migratory movements. The movements, both voluntary and forced, have shaped intercontinental relations, economic cultures and cultural dynamics. In this issue, we look at; Existing labour migration policies and whether they ensure safe migration within Africa what it takes to report effectively on labour migration in Africa. Find the link to the downloadable pdf here.
    • Labour Migration Newsletter #2: Migrant workers and the pandemic: Migrant workers have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Disruptions in hospitality and tourism, agriculture and informal sectors have left migrant workers without an income. A July 2020 report by the African Development Bank states that up to 25 million Africans lost their jobs. Find the link to the downloadable pdf here.
    • Labour Migration Newsletter #3: Has media failed labour migrants? The way society sees and treats labour migrants is shaped by many forces, including journalism. The media people consume, whether traditional or digital media in the form of social media, can reinforce or challenge dominant views on labour migration. While representing stories on labour migration, journalists report from their perspectives and judgments towards migrants. Acknowledging this bias is the first step in correcting negative portrayals that feed stereotypes of labour migrants. Find the link to the downloadable pdf here.
    • Labour Migration Newsletter #4: Automation and the future of work: Africa’s labour migration is closely connected to industrialisation. As more tasks and economic activities are automated, replacing humans with robots and artificial intelligence, labour migrants will face various vulnerabilities. Moreover, increased competition in the countries’ labour markets is likely to affect perceptions towards migrants. Find the link to the downloadable pdf here

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C.E.O & Co-founder, AWiM

Dr Yemisi Akinbobola is an award-winning journalist, academic, consultant and co-founder of African Women in Media (AWiM). AWiM’s vision is that one-day African women will have equal access to representation in media. Joint winner of the CNN African Journalist Award 2016 (Sports Reporting), Yemisi ran her news website IQ4News between 2010-14.
Yemisi holds a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies from Birmingham City University, where she is a Senior Lecturer. She has published scholarly research on women’s rights, African feminism, and journalism and digital public spheres. She was Editorial Consultant for the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 commemorative book titled “She Stands for Peace: 20 Years, 20 Journeys”, and currently hosts the book’s podcast.
She speaks regularly on issues relating to gender and media. In 2021 she was recognized as one of 100 Most Influential African Women.