In her writing for Egyptian Independent media outlet Mada Masr and research on water pollution for the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Isabel became aware of the lack of environmental journalism and investigation in Arabic and English in Egypt. She collaborated with Mada Masr to apply for funding from the British Embassy in Cairo to support a 5 day workshop for a small group of budding journalists from across the country. The 8 participants were selected by reputation and came from the very Northern, Eastern, Southern and Central parts of the country. The group was trained in research, writing, environmental enquiry on agriculture, water pollution, water scarcity, waste and energy, as well as in the taking of representative photos of the subject covered. The programme included a 5-day workshop, 6 month mentoring phase with mentors from Mada Masr and each participant was tasked with finding a story and getting it published after the workshop. The best published piece won a competition to get their article produced as a documentary which would also be screened at the British Embassy.
- Dina Zayed, freelance Reuters correspondent
- Reem Saad, Professor of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo
- The Habi Centre for Environmental Rights on water pollution
- Reem Labib, from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Ahmed Hamed, Multimedia Producer at Aswat Masriya
- Mahmoud El Refai, Siemens Egypt
- Sarah Rifaat, Facilitator, 350 Arab World
- Leila Iskander, then-Egyptian Environment Minister
- Mohammed Adel, Legal trainer from ECESR
The workshop was fuelled on the local and creative catering of Bread and Butter.
The competition winner Nada Arafat had her article produced into a documentary, ‘Boloros – Threatened Treasure’, which was well received at the British Embassy:
“Hosting the event, British Ambassador John Casson said: “The world depends on Egypt to find a third way between authoritarianism and extremism. A free and professional media that keeps government effective, transparent, and accountable is a vital ingredient of stability and democracy. I am inspired by Nada and the other young journalists I have met tonight and proud that Britain is investing in them.”.”
Nada went on to publish articles on water scarcity in Egypt for The Guardian via Mada Masr: ‘We woke up in a desert’ – the water crisis taking hold across Egypt; and her winning competition entry: ‘Stolen waters, stolen livelihoods‘.