Did you know that we have a network of almost 100 journalists reporting and investigating how climate change affects the lives of people around the world? Did you know that TrustLaw – our service providing free legal assistance - has almost 200 NGOs as members in India and nine law firms in mainland China?
The impact of our work is truly global. This new series will highlight some of the results we have achieved across different regions. This month, the focus is on Africa.
The world’s under-reported stories
One of the main services of the Thomson Reuters Foundation is devoted entirely to news and information. Our team of journalists, comprising 27 full time reporters located around the world and a growing network of over 100 stringers, reports the world’s under-reported stories, the ‘forgotten’ crises that rarely make mainstream headlines: natural disasters, conflicts, refugees, hunger crises, human rights, epidemics and the human impact of climate change. The Foundation’s news service has become an essential tool for relief and aid workers, policy makers, students, journalists and the general public.
Through their text reporting and multimedia features, the Foundation’s correspondents in Africa, Katy Migiro and Misha Hussain, have been highlighting the humanitarian crises in South Sudan and the Sahel, as well as the latest developments in the Central African Republic and Mali. The Foundation’s journalists also provide in-depth coverage of anti-corruption and transparency issues across Africa; in 2013 this included an exclusive report on “dirty money” flows through Kenya.
Women’s rights polls
Since 2011, in collaboration with the world’s leading gender experts, we have been developing innovative perception polls to put women’s rights at the heart of the news agenda. Our perception polls have had tremendous impact and are used by many NGOs and activists as an instrument to lobby governments and demand social change.
All three perception polls have ranked African countries, with our latest taking an in-depth look at the 22 Arab League nations, nine of which are located in Africa.
Free Legal Assistance
TrustLaw Connect is the Foundation’s award-winning service providing free legal assistance to NGOs and social enterprises. Founded in 2010 by Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa, the team has worked on nearly 130 pro bono projects in sub-Saharan Africa, ranging from everyday commercial matters to large international comparative research programmes.
TrustLaw Connect currently has nearly 150 members across the region: 88 NGOs and social enterprises and 58 law firms.
The service recently connected the Southern African Aids Trust with local law firms to conduct research on laws and policies relating to HIV self-testing. The research – due to be published later this year - will be used to improve access to HIV testing and knowledge of HIV status.
Other legal research published by TrustLaw and touching on Africa-related issues includes: a comparative study of global privacy and security issues related to mobile health (mHealth), a landscape analysis of human trafficking and prostitution laws in 14 selected countries including Egypt, Morocco, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal; and a report examining existing laws that protect domestic workers in selected countries including South Africa.
In 2013, TrustLaw honoured South African law firm Routledge Modise for its outstanding commitment to and enthusiasm for pro bono legal work with the Legal Team of the Year Award.
Journalism and media training
The Foundation’s journalism and media training service has trained more than 12,000 journalists in over 170 countries on everything from election reporting to covering health crises and corruption.
Since 1993, the Foundation has held 157 training courses in sub-Saharan Africa. The courses covered a range of topics, from reporting HIV-AIDs and women’s health, to financial, rural, environmental and conflict reporting.
As a result of our governance reporting training course held in December last year, Wade Williams, a journalist at FrontPageAfrica newspaper in Liberia, exposed a corruption scandal in Liberia. Wade used her new skills to examine the rental payments made by the Liberian Ambassador to Belgium and discovered that he was claiming more than the actual rent on the property. The story sparked a major scandal in Liberia, resulting in the recall of the entire embassy staff and the launching of a government investigation.
Innovative news services in Zimbabwe and Egypt
As part of our strong commitment to free journalism, we also set up news services to strengthen independent media in selected countries. In Africa we have done this twice, in Egypt and Zimbabwe.
Aswat Masriya, which means “Egyptian voices or Egyptian votes”, was set up in 2011, after the Egyptian Revolution, in both English and Arabic to provide the Egyptian public with news and practical information related to the upcoming elections. Since its inception, the site has grown exponentially to better reflect the great demand for authoritative and trusted news on many different aspects of Egyptian society. All journalists working at Aswat Masriya are trained by the Foundation.
In Zimbabwe, we recently launched the Source, an independent financial and business news service providing investors and media organisations with greater access to financial and business news and analysis. Supported by both the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the European Journalism Centre, the website is run entirely by a team of Zimbabwean journalists and has been successful in throwing light on the country’s fast-changing economic environment. According to Editor in Chief Nelson Banya, the Source is on track to “consolidate its position as Zimbabwe’s first domestic financial news service”.
Trust Women Conference
The Foundation’s annual women’s rights conference is a global movement with one clear mission: to put the full force of the law behind women’s rights, and to take action. 450 global leaders from 40 countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Somaliland, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, attended the second annual Trust Women Conference in London, 3-4 December 2013. High-level speakers included Edna Adan, Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Somaliland and Founder of Edna Adan Maternity Hospital; Amira Yahyaoui, human rights activist, Tunisia; Xav Hagen, Acting Country Director, DRC, Women for Women; and others.
Coming up in March: Find out about our impact in India.