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Alex FM journalist Mbalenhle Chiya is one of the winners of the 2014 WASH Media Awards. The biannual WASH Media Prize is awarded to journalists for excellence in reporting on critical water, sanitation and hygiene issues.
Chiya won the award for excellence in reporting on water, sanitation and hygiene related issues at a ceremony in Sweden on Friday.
Her piece ‘Human Rights to Water and Sanitation’ competed with stories from international journalists and came out top in the “The Human Right to Water and Sanitation” category.
This year the competition received more than 100 entries from 30 different countries.
Chiya says that she worked with her colleagues on the feature which was aimed at raising awareness about water and sanitation issues in the Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg.
She says some of the community members do not understand their right to water and sanitation.
As part of the radio feature Chiya and teammates, Refilwe Shika, Thabang Phungwayo, Tumi Tseola and Sammy Ramodike spoke to different community members in an area called Setswetla which is part of Alexandra, concerning their problems in accessing water.
Chiya says the residents pointed out that they have lost loved ones as a result of consuming contaminated water. She highlights that one of the residents shared a story of how her daughter was almost raped while fetching water from the river.
The team then entered the competition on the Internet and were informed that they won in August.
Chiya says the conference was an eye opening experience
Chiya was invited to Sweden to attend the Water Week Conference in Stockholm and to receive the award.
The annual event organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute took place from 31st of August to the 5th of September. The event focuses on world water and developmental issues.
It is attended by leaders and activists from different countries. Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane is one of the people who attended the week-long conference.
Chiya says the conference was an eye opening experience. She adds that she enjoyed interacting with people from across the world.
The Alex FM journalist, who is part of the “Bigger Than Life” show team at the community radio, has expressed pride in what the team has been able to achieve.
She urges young people to actively participate in addressing challenges they face.
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