HumAngle’s Journos Share Experiences Reporting Desertification, Terror Abduction
“It was a roller coaster and I have learnt so much.”
In April, HumAngle published this report by Investigations Editor ‘Kunle Adebajo and Asst. Planning Editor Murtala Abdullahi, under a partnership with the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ).
The authors of the work, which dwelled on understanding the conflict between herders and farmers, shared their experience with Humans of HumAngle (HoH).
“It’s unlike any other field report I’ve gone for. We had new experiences, especially our canoe ride through the Ngugu wetlands and our time on top of the dunes of Yusufari,” Kunle said.
He observed that it was difficult getting interviews with all sides of the crisis, especially the nomadic herding communities. “At other times, we were just extremely lucky to have met some of our sources. Overall, it was tough but remarkably worthwhile,” he added.
Murtala, who also heads HumAngle’s Armed Violence and Climate Security Desk, said the trip was quite intense and interesting. According to him, it provided a better understanding of the impact of desert encroachment on the lives and livelihood of the local communities.
HoH understands that writing the story took a great deal of time because the reporters were trying to compress so much information into so little space. The editing phase was also gruelling.
“After all the editors went through and were satisfied, CCIJ had a fact-checker and lawyer assess the draft for possible flaws,” Kunle recalled.
“It was a roller coaster and I’ve learnt so much from the process,” he said with a satisfying smile.
Murtala said the trip was tough considering most of the movement was via roads. Visiting remote locations, particularly Yusufari wasn’t that pleasing, he noted but making sure to add that it was all worth the hassle.
Reporting the Dapchi abduction
On Feb. 19, 2018. 115 schoolgirls were abducted by militants of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). This incident and its spillovers, however, went under-reported despite being crucial.
Hauwa Nuhu Shaffii, HumAngle’s Assitant Managing Editor, recently told HoH that before embarking on her trip to Dapchi, she had always wondered why unlike the Chibok abduction, the Dapchi incident did not attract widespread condemnation.
According to Hauwa, the Dapchi girls and their parents were neglected, which was the only push she needed to tell their stories.
Prior to her report, there were very few materials for her to use online. This was a major challenge that kept her wide awake at night.
“There was no existing material I could use for context for a lot of things I was writing,” she said. “It is good to have materials that could be a guide when you are on the field to cover a particular topic.”
Looking at the bright side!
HoH asked the reporters what they considered the most impressive thing about their reports.
“Being able to humanise the report!” replied Hauwa.
It is impressive that we now have their names, pictures and details about them out there in the world, she said referring to the schoolgirls.
On the flip side, Kunle’s concern was the hundreds and hundreds of pictures they took as he is still not sure of what to do with the bulk of them that haven’t been published.
“The storytelling and data visualisations are an exciting part of the report, as well as the significance and uniqueness of the story itself,” Kunle confidently said.
For Murtala, aside from the report highlighting the risk associated with environmental degradation, “it also gave us insight from academics on the path and systems needed to improve the conditions of pastoralists”.
Reported by: Rukayya Saeed
Edited by: ‘Kunle Adebajo