Event Reports

Water Journalism Academy - Middle East and North Africa

by Daniela Diegelmann, Hamza Saidi

Virtual Training from 17 August to 21 September 2020

Outstanding environmental journalists and media professionals gathered for a tailored online academy aiming at intensifying and improving the quality and scope of media coverage of acute water-related challenges in the MENA region. Three of the elaborated media pieces were awarded with the Blue Peace Open Eye Award.

Water Journalism Academy - Middle East and North Africa
Organized by KAS - REMENA and cewas

The online program comprised a four-module training and co-creation workshop bringing together participants with international key stakeholders of the water and environmental sector on constructive water reporting, as well as continuous follow-up coaching and a regional competition, the Blue Peace Open Eye Award, which was received by three participants as recognition of their meaningful media pieces.

Forty selected journalists and media professionals from the MENA region started the first module of the Water Journalism Academy (WJA) by discussing with six international key water experts from institutions like the League of Arab States, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, Geneva Water Hub, MEDRC Water Research, the American University of Beirut and the African Civil Society Network for Water and Sanitation (ANEW), to set the ground for identyfing possible story ideas on water-related challenges and opportunities in the region. They especially discussed topics of energy use in water services, wastewater treatment and reuse, gender and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), water technology and innovation, desalination, and water security and peace.

During the second module, the participants originating from eleven countries in the region worked together on defining target groups and learned how these shape the format of their media pieces. The visual storyteller Uwe H. Martin, who has produced a variety of successful internaional media pieces circulating around social, environmental, water and agricultural issues, introduced the group to innovative ways of storytelling and journalism with vivid examples and hands-on advice on how to reach the defined target audience by using different cutting-edge media formats.

Continuing with the third module, participants received input from two international senior journalists on interview techniques with experts and on pitching their media pieces to editors. The new skills were put into practice immediately, by interviewing three renown water experts from Europe and the MENA region. Provided with feedback on their interviewing skills and follow-up individual coaching sessions with two senior journalists, participants were well equipped to start working on their own media pieces for the following three weeks.

In order to compete for the Blue Peace Open Eye Award during the last module on September 21, 2020, participants pitched their water stories to an international jury consisting of 10 journalism/storytelling and water experts. The results were impressive, with a variety of crucial water issues in the region being adressed through different formats, ranging from written pieces to videos and interactive projects. After reviewing the submitted media pieces and listening to the pitches the jury members shortlisted five participants covering water stories in Morocco, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen and Iraq.

At the second stage, the jury chose three awardees, Mohammed El-Said ("Egypt Turns to Science to Mitigate Water Crisis", Egypt) and Errachid Montassir (" 'Khettara', the Past & Present Treasure in the Haouz Region", Morocco) as a tie for the first place with the prize of a fully funded trip to an international water event in 2021 and Sahar Al Shameri ("Sewari Water - Thirty Years of Disagreement being solved by Women”, Yemen) as a runner-up.

The WJA’s participatory format and cross-institutional interdisciplinary approach provided participants with an opportunity to tackle innovative ways to water story coverage, build new relationships and learn from exchanges with other environmental journalists and media professionals from the MENA region. Many of them already developed ideas for further media projects, raising continuously awareness on water scarcity and pollution and showcasing success stories on overcoming these challenges.


Daniela Diegelmann

Daniela Diegelmann bild

Policy Advisor International Dialogue Programs

daniela.diegelmann@kas.de +212 5 37 67 04 13/14 +212 5 37 67 04 15

Hamza Saidi

Portrait Hamza Saidi

Project Coordinator

Hamza.Saidi@kas.de +212 5 37 67 04 13/14