ICIR’s Chikezie Omeje, Zimbabwean Makoni win science journalism award in Ethiopia

HEAD of newsroom, senior investigative and data reporter of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Chikezie Omeje and Zimbabwean reporter Munyaradzi Makoni have bagged   cash prize award of $3,000 each in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia for their reports in science journalism.

The award was presented during the Grand Challenges Annual meeting in Addis- Ababa, a meeting that brings scientists and policy makers together, creating solutions to global health problems.

The recognition was sponsored by the African Academy of Science, a non-governmental organisation based in Nairobi, Kenya with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Omeje is currently at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York majoring in Data Journalism.

His report on the mental injury inflicted on children by the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeastern part of Nigeria won him the award.

Capturing the experience of  Blessing and Aisha who are Boko Haram victims, Omeje wrote about how the two teenagers witnessed the murder of their parents in cold blood and how the  experience haunt them till date .

“Without psycho-social help, the girls have been forced to develop their own ways to cope with the anguish. They cuddle and pray. ‘I ask Allah to help us,’ Aisha says, drawing a retreating veil that reveals her cornrow braid to her forehead. ‘I pray to Jesus to deliver us’ adds Blessing, appearing a little taller than Aisha in her white gown,” Omeje wrote.

The second winner of the award, a Zimbabwean freelance journalist Makoni who is based in Cape Town, South Africa won with his report on solar-tracking bracelet for nomadic pregnant women in Kenya.

His story detailed the use of the solar powered GPS embedded in a bracelet given to nomadic pregnant women in semi-arid area of Marsabit County in Kenya in order to prevent maternal mortality.



    Baby  are delivered at home in this region, and mothers die from bleeding during childbirth and  babies too, due to malnutrition.

    Makoni showed how the disappearance of the funding in September  may end the project targeted at saving lives of pregnant women.

    He quoted Denis Kalikdane the handler of technology for the programme who emphasised that solar was the best option to power the GPS because only a few would have been able to afford it if it was on battery.

    The bracelets are charged via a tiny fitted solar panel that absorbs light while on the wristwatch, Makoni wrote.

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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