Kibera’s Sauti ya Mtaa among finalists for ANIC challenge

Geo-located citizen news project Sauti ya Mtaa has been shortlisted for the inaugural million-dollar African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC).

Integrated with open source mapping tool, Sauti ya Mtaa is one of the 40 digital journalism projects shortlisted as finalists in the challenge, following a review of over 510 projects.

Sauti Ya Mtaa is a partnership between Nairobi-based Map Kibera Trust, a citizen mapping and media organization, Washington DC’s GroundTruth Initiative and Dar es Salaam’s Center for Community Initiatives with a consortium of local journalists and media houses.

Although the initiative has several citizen platforms already reporting in Kibera and Mathare, its request for $120,000 will see it add reporter profiles, curated front page, multiple views into content based on issue, location, organization and several apps for both web and mobile reach.

The site uses mapping and data as tools for news reporting and capturing news that have impact on the development of communities in informal settlements.

Local news and concerns are raised within the community, forming a local news hub, and networks will be built with mainstream media to draw wider audience, she added.

Erica Hagen of the GroundTruth Initiative said citizen-produced media is in need of a stronger, open tool for geo-located journalism tailored to the needs of the communities and informal settlements.

According to Kibera.org, Kibera has over 2 million residents, representing 60 percent of Kenya’s population. If it takes home the prize, Sauti ya Mtaa says it will highlight to the mainstream media and the outside world that the slums need water, electricity, health facilities and employment opportunities.

The African News Innovation Challenge (ANIC) is the largest fund for digital journalism experimentation in Africa, and is designed to spur solutions to the business, distribution and workplace challenges that face the media industry.

Justin Arenstein, ANIC manager and a Knight International Journalism fellow, said: “We are thrilled with the broad range of innovation and ideas among the finalists.”

“The teams with the strongest links to newsrooms and technology partners had an advantage, as did those that could already point to some proofs-of-concept.”

Around 20 winners, who will receive cash grants ranging from $12,500 to $100,000, plus technology and business development support, will be announced at the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) in Dakar, Senegal, on November 10.

ANIC was founded by Omidyar Network, Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the U.S. State Department, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

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