Linah Mwamachi’s journey to winning two Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA) 2021 awards

The award means so much to me. It has given me more courage and morale to keep working hard and dig more for facts and news that will benefit society and the environment for our good

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On Tuesday 4th May 2021, it was the day when the Media Council of Kenya was to announce the winners of the Annual Journalism Excellence Awards (AJEA) 2021. This was after thousands of accredited journalists had submitted their stories, some months earlier.

The event was held online owing to the current Covid-19 pandemic, with very few officials from MCK at present in Nairobi. Nonetheless, we were glued to our screens having in mind that some of our Sifa FM journalists had submitted their entries, with our prayers that luck could be on our side this time.

There were many different categories and the list was long, if one was not patient enough, he/she would choose to do other things and wait to get the results from others.

And the time came for environment reporting award categories, as we focused on the computer screens we saw a very familiar face caption the Winner of the environment reporting award as Lina Mwamachi of Sifa FM Voi.

Linah Mwamachi at Transworld Radio Kenya offices during the awards ceremony day

The first word that came out of Lina’s mouth was, "Thank you, Jesus". Also came another category which was investigative reporting, and again Lina was the winner.

How she worked on the award-winning stories and challenges met and how she overcame,

She pitched the investigative wildlife and environmental conservation story to Info Nile, an organization dealing with issues on Nile Basin Water after they published their call for grants proposals. This was after a previous rejection for the same story by Info Nile.

After receiving the grant from Info Nile and working on the story she came across AJEA’s call for entries submission. Lina sent the story she did under Info Nile and it won her the Investigative AJEA award.

There were several challenges she encountered. Firstly, she struggled to get the sources for the interview e.g. the Kenya Wildlife Service officer in charge then. After a while, however, she managed to interview the KWS officer.

Secondly, it was extremely challenging to meet up with sources who were far, like Kenya Metrological Deputy Director and IGAD Climate Prediction & Applications Centre (ICPAC) officers. Thankfully she had gained knowledge through info Nile on how to make use of different apps like Zoom, Meet and others, she tried zoom meeting and invited her guest who was far and she managed to do the interviews.

Linah Mwamachi and Patience Nyange -Council member at Media council of Kenya

The other story on the environmental award was her idea and wanted to see it done. She chose not to pitch her story to anyone but instead used the resources and networks she had available

She had a good relationship with the Food Agricultural Officers (FAO) in Taita Taveta county. One day they called her offering to give her free transport to a bee farm in located Shelemba area, 13KM deep into the interior of Mwatate constituency. She consulted with her station manager, Edgar Kalimbo and it was set, she now had all she needed to do the story.

When the AJEA Award call for submissions came she submitted the story too, among others with the hope that at least one story would get an award as long as she had done well-researched, detailed and factual good stories even if not sponsored.

What influenced the choice of the stories

The investigative story was influenced by the fact that human-wildlife conflict has been experienced for a long time in Taita Taveta. Her goal was to find a solution more so at this time when the world is experiencing climate change.

She came up with the idea of what should be done to secure bees. This was after she got interested in reading about bees and how they contribute largely to agriculture.

For us to have good food affordability, availability and food security, bees need to be taken care of, mostly now where the weather patterns are not predictable and dependable. We learnt that possible solutions are like planting trees and flowers in our farms and create water availability in our farms and areas where we live, for easy pollination of our food by bees among other pollinators. Linah Explained

All the awards received by the SIFA FM team members

What the award means to Lina and how she intends to use this recognition to influence others at work and for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The award means so much to me. It has given me more courage and morale to keep working hard and dig more for facts and news that will benefit society and the environment for our good. I am happy to say that the awards have built some hope and assurance for my colleagues too. It’s very clear now that everyone can become a winner as long as we try in our own big and small ways, with hard work, determination and focus. I also urge my colleagues to get out of their comfort zones and spread their wings. I intend to keep working hard to inform our listeners about what’s going on around us, as well as pulling them closer to listening to the word of God through Sifa FM Voi as they listen to our feature stories and our news.” Says Lina Mwamachi.

Lina Mwamachi's background, duties at the station and hobbies.

“I am a female accredited journalist. I am Born again, a go-getter and fighter. I am Passionate about climate and weather change, wildlife and environment conservation and Agriculture. I am Producer / Reporter / Presenter and News Anchor at Sifa FM Voi

I love reading and watching documentaries about the environment, wildlife and listening to and singing worship songs which draw me closer to God.”

story by Pamela Omwodo

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August 26th, 2021Libby Ndambo