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Call for Proposals

Grants for Investigative Reporting on Environmental Crime in East Africa

Lion in Kenya
Application Deadline
15 October 2020, 02:00 PM (Africa/Asmara)
Application closed

Internews’ Earth Journalism Network is offering journalists from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda reporting grants of up to $2,000 to produce investigative stories that dig deep into the illegal wildlife trade and environmental crime in East Africa and beyond.


Wildlife crime and trade, rampant in East Africa, not only threatens biodiversity, but also has a bearing on climate change, security, economic stability and human health. Indeed, wildlife trafficking is suspected to have played a role in the spread of the disease driving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wildlife trafficking is global, lucrative and in high demand, according to the latest World Wildlife Crime Report by the  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It has also gained an increasingly prominent place on the political agenda in recent years, the report notes.

Media coverage of the illegal wildlife trade helps expose these crimes and inform the public about the risk they pose to our world. Such attention can also lead to improved legal action and the adoption of stricter laws that seek to curb wildlife trafficking.

But news stories have traditionally focused on government seizures of contraband rather than investigating why the trade thrives, supply and demand drivers or the syndicates helping make it happen.

While we’re prioritizing story proposals focused on illegal wildlife trafficking, we are also interested in other investigative pieces looking at environmental crime. These includes, but are not limited to, stories on illegal logging, mining or sand harvesting, the trade in timber, such as sandalwood, dumping of hazardous waste and overfishing.

Successful applicants are expected to put these grants toward travel for field reporting, research and production. We also expect all applicants to attend a series of virtual Investigative Media Roundtables that will begin in October. We’ll be announcing them on our opportunities page, so please check back here after applying.

The roundtables will be open for all journalists to attend, and each will focus on investigative reporting in one of the four countries listed above. In addition to providing attendees with information on wildlife trafficking, we’ll help connect them to sources and resources for their investigations.

This opportunity is part of EJN’s East Africa Wildlife Journalism project, which aims to boost coverage of conservation and wildlife issues in the region and is supported by funding from the US Department of the Interior and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).


Grants are open to professional journalists and media organizations from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. Stories can be produced in any of the following mediums: print, television, radio or online. Some of the criteria that EJN will consider in judging the applications include:

  • Experience in  investigative reporting, particularly on wildlife or environmental issues;
  • Commitment to attend at least one of the virtual Investigative Media Roundtables;
  • Audience size, and whether the applicant will produce stories for international, national, local, or community-based media;
  • Attendance at our Investigative Media Roundtables;
  • Stories can be produced in English, Kiswahili, or local languages. Applicants who intend to write or produce stories in a language other than English will be asked to include a translation of the headline and a short summary in English for publication by EJN.


Freelancers with a demonstrable plan for publication and a letter of interest from an editor are encouraged to apply. Similarly, photojournalists and multimedia practitioners with published visual work are also eligible.

Please note that the stories should be produced under a Creative Commons license, giving EJN and its partners and donors the right to edit, publish, broadcast, and distribute copies of these stories freely after they have been published/broadcast in the original media outlet. Full credit and a link will be provided to media organization that originally published/aired the stories.


Applicants should consider the following points when devising their story proposals:

  • Timing: Ideally, the proposed story or stories should be published within three months of receiving funds, or no later than May 15, 2021.
  • Relevance: Does the proposal meet the criteria and objectives of this call? Why does this story matter and to whom? Is the main idea, context and overall value to the target audience clearly defined?
  • Angle: If the story has already been covered by mainstream media, does your proposal bring new insights into the topic or offer a fresh angle? 
  • Impact: Will the investigative piece trigger debate and urge action? 
  • Innovative storytelling: The use of creative approaches and data visualization will be considered a plus and should be explained in detail in the proposal.
  • Feasibility: Can the story be realistically completed within the target time frame? Is the budget realistic?
  • Diversity: We will take gender and geographical distribution into account when selecting the grantees in addition to the criteria above.
  • Budget: Judges will strongly evaluate and consider whether the budget is reasonable and is aimed at covering costs needed for the research and reporting rather than externalities.


Application process

  • Click on the Apply Now button at the top of the page. 
  • If you have an existing account, you’ll need to log in. If not, you must register for an account by clicking “Join the Network” on the top right of the page.
  • If you start the application and want to come back and complete it later, you can click “Save Draft.” To return to the draft, you’ll need to go back to the opportunity and click “Apply Now” again to finalize the application.
  • Applicants should provide a detailed budget with justification for the amount requested. Download the budget template now by clicking on this linkWe expect that proposals will largely reflect what equipment the applicant already has access to (including cameras, drones, lighting, tripods etc.). We will not consider budgets that heavily focus on procuring new supplies. Please include the cost for translation in the budget, if necessary. Please also note on your budget form if you are receiving funding from other donors for the story.
  • You must submit three samples of stories or links to relevant work. You’ll be asked to upload these once you start the application process so please get them ready beforehand.
  • Applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.


APPLICATION DEADLINE: October 19, 2020 at 5:00pm EAT

If you encounter any difficulties submitting your application or have questions about the grants, please email [email protected].

Banner image: A lion in Nairobi National Park  / Credit: Kiundu Waweru