The Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), through its Conflict, Security, and Human Rights project (CSHR), has partnered with L’Evenement Niger to organise a 4-day Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Workshop on information disorder reporting of Conflict in Niger Republic. With funding support from the Open Society Foundation – Africa, the 4-days training aims to equip journalists and data analysts in Niger with comprehensive tools and advanced expertise in open-source research. The objective is to enable them to track the intricate patterns of misinformation and disinformation arising from conflicts, thereby facilitating effective reporting on conflict within the country. Ultimately, the aim is to enhance the standard of conflict reporting across the Lake Chad region.

As part of the broader Conflict Economy project at the CJID, our focus remains on comprehensive reporting on conflict within the Lake Chad region. The initial phase, executed in the Niger Republic, concentrated on reporting various conflicts and human rights violations resulting from terrorism and counterinsurgency efforts within the country. Fifteen journalists underwent training, with nine subsequently commissioned to conduct investigative reports on diverse human rights issues arising from terrorism and counterinsurgency measures in the country.

In our continued efforts, the second phase targets the intricate challenges posed by information disorder in conflict-affected areas. This forthcoming workshop therefore caters to journalists and data analysts committed to utilising open-source intelligence tools to monitor, research, and report on patterns and trends of information disorder evident within such zones. Participants will deepen their reporting skills to investigate and uncover the intricate network and operations of terrorist groups in the Lake Chad region, particularly in the Niger Republic, leveraging OSINT tools. The initiative further aims to equip participants with indispensable skills, tools, and technologies to uphold information accuracy, combat misinformation, and actively contribute to conflict resolution efforts, which is a major goal for the project.

In his remarks, Ifeanyi Chukwudi, the Senior Programme Manager of the Development Programme at CJID, re-echoed CJID’s commitment to fostering an environment where journalists can thrive and produce high-quality investigative work. According to him, “this OSINT workshop represents a significant step towards empowering journalists in the Lake Chad Basin region. By equipping them with advanced tools and techniques, we aim to enhance their ability to uncover the truth, combat misinformation and disinformation which is driving conflict in the region, and contribute to peace and security through accurate reporting. This initiative not only strengthens journalism but also supports our broader goal of promoting good governance and human rights in the region.

According to Mr. Moussa Aksar, Director of L’Evenement Niger, amidst the ongoing conflicts, terrorism, and organised crime prevalent in Africa, notably within the Lake Chad region, social media has emerged as a fertile ground for disseminating disinformation and fake news. He noted that this concerning trend of misinformation perpetuates confusion and uncertainty, ultimately impacting public perception and posing a threat to the security of nations. To address this challenge, Mr. Aksar stated that the project, themed “Revealing the Truth through OSINT,” will empower 10 journalists from Niger with advanced open-source research tools and knowledge to gather, verify, and analyse information from open sources effectively. Mr. Aksar highlighted the project’s significance, stating, “This initiative is a concrete and necessary response to the challenges facing the media in the region.” He emphasised that this will contribute to promoting quality journalism based on verified facts.

Ms. Ouwapelumi Oginni, the project lead for the Conflict, Security, and Human Rights (CSHR) project at CJID, remarked that the notable success achieved during the first project implementation in Niger Republic provides strong assurance that journalists and data analysts will greatly benefit from this current initiative, ultimately resulting in a lasting impact. She stated, “The success we witnessed in the first project implementation in Niger gives us great confidence that journalists will greatly benefit from this current initiative, with high hopes  for a lasting impact.”

About the workshop

The training, scheduled to be held between 10th – 13th June, 2024 in Niamey, Niger, is themed “Revealing the Truth Through OSINT in Niger.” The use of OSINT tools will play a pivotal role in enhancing the training’s teaching and impact. The training will cover critical and important aspects of understanding the importance of using OSINT in combating misinformation in the Lake Chad Basin. A call for applications for journalists was launched and a selection process was conducted. 10 journalists/data analysts from across different regions within the country ( 5 from Niamey, 1 from Diffa, 1 from Zinder, 1 from Maradi, 1 from Agadez, and 1 from Dosso) were selected  based on their ability and technical skills to understand and implement OSINT tools and techniques.  

The training will cover various topics, including Understanding the importance of using OSINT in combating misinformation in the Lake Chad Basin, digital security in OSINT, OSINT tools and techniques, data analysis, and developing and conducting an investigative project with OSINT. At the end of the training, the journalists will receive mentorship, and be commissioned to produce information disorder reports on conflict using OSINT tools. These reports will improve the fight against misinformation and contribute to a more informed perception of conflicts in the Lake Chad region.