The Nile River, the world’s longest river, winds through 11 countries in Africa and is crucial to many of these nations’ economies, diplomacy and wellbeing. The river is also a world biodiversity hotspot and the backbone to many of Africa’s fragile ecosystems. Today, it is under new and evolving threats including climate change, population and economic growth and transboundary hydropolitics. The $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam scheduled to be completed this year in Ethiopia, for instance, threatens the survival of Egypt’s 95 million people who are largely dependent on irrigation waters from the Nile. Sea level rise impacted by climate change also has the potential to significantly reduce the Nile River delta, increasing intrusion of saltwater and threatening freshwater availability for much of the basin’s 10 countries.
The overall objective of “InfoNile” is to promote the communication of scientific research and technical knowledge on water issues in a way that encourages cooperation on transboundary water resources and helps the public better understand issues emerging from scientific research. InfoNile will be a “geojournalism" platform mapping news articles as layers on interactive maps visualizing scientific data using the template initiated by Internews' Earth Journalism Network. This digital platform seeks to integrate scientific research and local/indigenous journalistic reports, generating user-friendly platforms for policymakers, citizens and scientists to understand the broader scale of water issues along with local/human impact.
InfoNile will further offer seed grants to teams of journalists, scientists and photographers to put together in-depth multimedia story packages incorporating scientific research and data visualization on issues of the Nile Basin. These stories will be published on InfoNile as interactive multimedia special projects highlighting key issues of the Nile with a strong focus on the human impact. The seed grants will also include training and mentoring for the story/research teams in science and environmental communication, as well as basic data visualization.
The Nile basin will be used as a pilot case with the idea of scaling up and applying the same approach to other international river basins in the future. The project builds on the initial results of our partner, UNESCO-IHE's initiative called Open Water Diplomacy Lab, aiming at studying the role of the media and science in transboundary water negotiation and at training journalists and scientists in scientific communication that facilitates cooperation on transboundary waters. Along with UNESCO-IHE, we will partner with project leader, Fredrick Mugira's African Water Journalists and the Nile Basin Capacity Building Network.
Above Photo: Dr. Emanuele Fantini, the project manager of UNESCO-IHE's Open Water Diplomacy Lab, with Fredrick Mugira, the founder of African Water Journalists.
Above Photo: InfoAmazonia, an example of a geojournalism website created by Internews' Earth Journalism Network for the Amazonia region of South America.