About: IWPR Annual Report 2016 | Institute for War and Peace Reporting


Annual Report 2016

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) empowers people’s voices at the frontlines of conflict and transition to help them drive change. IWPR builds skills, capacity and networks for citizens and their communities so their voices can make a difference – strengthening accountability and supporting development, advancing justice and forging peace.


Anthony Borden Throughout 2016, IWPR continued to support free voices in some of the most challenging environments around the world and to help in the production of vital frontline reporting.

One of those voices, long-term IWPR contributor Gaziza Baituova from Kazakhstan, was nominated for the Index on Censorship’s 2017 journalism award, the same accolade won by our Syrian colleague Zaina Erhaim in 2016 and by an IWPR Azeri colleague in 2012.

As Gaziza said, “At IWPR, I feel part of a big, friendly and creative family.” It is a great credit to her and IWPR’s Central Asia team and an important reminder of our sustaining commitment and core mission.

IWPR remains active in the most challenging and vital areas of conflict and transition in 30 countries around the world – providing an “iron lung” to journalists, citizen reporters and independent civic voices so that they can highlight the impact of conflict, hold authorities accountable and keep alive the vision of peaceful, just and accountable societies.

The Middle East remains IWPR’s largest programme area, with vibrant interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Tunisia as well as programming in support of women and digital security across the region. These range from conflict reporting and digital security training, to the remarkable Letters to Mosul campaign that culminated in a major airdrop of solidarity letters to the beleaguered city.

Our Europe/Eurasia programming includes long-standing engagements in nine South Caucasus and Central Asia countries as well as Ukraine, and the development of new programming under way in the Baltics and the Balkans.

IWPR’s programming in Asia includes our long-standing Afghanistan effort, plus initiatives in Burma, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. We have supported peace journalism, monitored hate speech and developed investigative reporting as a key tool to combat corruption and build civic engagement.

Our energetic Latin America team, based in Mexico City, continues groundbreaking work in Cuba and is extending regional programming to selected countries in Central and South America. The work ranges from basic journalism training to supporting links between media and civic society groups, as well as significant digital security programming.

The Africa team continues the vital Open Minds youth initiative in northern Nigeria and is developing new investigative reporting programming and other initiatives.

All of our efforts seek to strengthen local voices so they can drive positive change in their societies, regionally and beyond. None of this work would be possible without the engagement and trust of so many courageous local journalists and activists, from whom we draw so much inspiration.

Our deeply committed staff and consultants, our many partners and associates, and our highly engaged International Board of Trustees all play a huge role in allowing us to have an impact. Above all, we thank our numerous governmental, foundation and private contributors, whose partnership, encouragement and financial assistance are essential in enabling all our work.

Anthony Borden
IWPR Executive Director


Working in 27 countries, IWPR’s innovative programs are crafted to respond to the needs of the people they serve. Projects prioritise locally informed objectives and lead to sustainable outcomes. Beneficiaries include citizen and professional journalists, human rights and peace activists, policymakers, educators, researchers, businesses, and women’s, youth and other civil society organisations and partners.

As encapsulated in our slogan – Giving Voice, Driving Change – IWPR’s mission calls for a wide range of efforts aimed at empowering people’s voices and helping them make a real difference within their own societies. The work ranges from skills building and training to media policy and legal reform; from frontline journalism to citizens accountability networks and social media; from covering war crimes tribunals and human rights abuses to establishing national networks for elections reporting. All of the programmes are linked through the objective of strengthening constructive local voices to help them drive positive change.


London, Washington, DC & Amsterdam


AFRICA: Nigeria, Rwanda & Sierra Leone

ASIA: Afghanistan, Burma/Myanmar, Philippines & Sri Lanka

EUROPE & EURASIA: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan & Ukraine

LATIN AMERICA: Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua & Venezuela

MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria & Tunisia

Journalists are seen as the security forces clash with Daesh terrorists in northern Iraq. Kirkuk, Iraq. October 22, 2016. © Yunus Keles/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images



IWPR has continued to counter violent extremism and promote tolerance, reconciliation and coexistence and personal agency among Iraqis. Its network of moderate voices/activists reaches nearly four million Iraqis every day on social media, primarily Facebook.

The IWPR workshops have opened new horizons to us, enabling us to identify various types of extremism through utilising specific methods and indications.

Anmar Khalid, International educational NGO in Baghdad, Iraq

In addition to daily content production, three successful advocacy campaigns have gone viral:

The first campaign was launched to promote reconciliation and a spirit of tolerance among Iraqis, with thousands of citizens inspired to produce their own video messages in support.

Launched four weeks before operations to liberate the city began on October 17 2016, the campaign promoted empathy for Mosul residents and countered perceptions that they had supported Islamic State (IS). The campaign reached its peak in December with an airdrop of four million letters to Mosul written by Iraqis in Baghdad, Anbar and southern of Iraq. Monitoring and evaluation results showed that the campaign helped change stereotyped opinions about Mosul residents, especially among the Shia community, encouraging them to contribute to relief efforts for those displaced from the liberated areas.

This campaign was aimed at promoting resilience and personal agency among Iraqis, inspiring and encouraging them to contribute positively to society. This campaign also went viral and led to thousands of success stories and hundreds of volunteering campaigns delivered by youths impacted by the spirit of the campaign.

libya & tunisia

IWPR training session where participants built skills through a combination of discussions, interactive presentations and practical exercises. Tunis, Tunisia. July 2016. © IWPR

IWPR’s Libya and Tunisia programming continued to grow during 2016, with new US State Department funded long-term projects – the Libyan Women’s Radio Network and Protecting Activists & Civil Society (PAX-II) in Libya. Negotiations also reached the end stage for a new round of support for IWPR’s EU-funded Libyan Content Development Fund.

IWPR is running six programmes from Tunis, including the regional Women on the Frontline, and is one of only a few international organisations with a permanent presence in Libya and that conduct multiple activities inside the country with partner media outlets, universities and CSOs.

The training is so comprehensive and when I returned to my station I realized how much I had learned. I have tried to share my training with other colleagues as I know they would really benefit from attending themselves.

IWPR Libya Trainee

IWPR’s programming supports the training of media professionals and activists, and the creation of relevant and quality content in dozens of communities where our partner radio stations are often the only source of information. More than 75 radio programmes were produced inside Libya in the last six months with the support of IWPR’s Reporting the Transition initiative, part of its largest and long-running USG-funded Transitioning to the Future project, and the UK-funded Al-Maidan Youth Partnership. IWPR also completed over 50 internships for Libyan journalists and editors with Tunisian radio stations. In addition, we continue to work with Libyan universities through our Al-Maidan Media Lab to build skills for the first generation of post-Gaddafi journalists and encourage youth to participate in their country’s political, social, cultural and economic development. Fifteen young people from Libyan universities joined the first-ever University of Tripoli Media Lab student exchange, while more than 20 others are producing daily radio bulletins and developing debate-style television programming. New programming under Protecting Activists & Civil Society (PAX) will also train CSOs in the media, gender, human rights and youth sectors. We continue to teach safety and security skills to media and activists through our pioneering Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) programme, which established three teams of Libyans that have trained 230 people inside Libya. IWPR is also in discussions with funders about project grants in Tunisia around media, elections, judicial accountability and combating violent extremism.


IWPR is implementing two projects in Syria. Alternative Voices is creating waves of original local journalism to spotlight the effects of extremist groups on daily life in Syria, and how some sectors of society – in particular women – are challenging and rejecting their violent, exclusivist ideas. The Reinforcing Civic Response project supports Syrian CSOs as independent and inclusive voices in communicating and advocating for citizen needs and aspirations.

If it had not been for the computer courses at the centre, I would not have my current job as a media professional.

Hanan, A frequent visitor to IWPR’s Salqin MySpace centre in Syria

IWPR published 128 crisis reports and 93 women’s blogs and provided over 900 hours of mentoring to writers in Syria. Three Syrian activists have qualified as HEFAT trainers and have so far trained 32 women and five men in Idlib province. Two MySpace women’s internet cafés and training centres in Aleppo and Idlib have hosted more than 1,600 visitors since May 2016, providing training in first aid, computer basics, software and Google research, English, French and Turkish language courses and social media use. Three additional women’s centres will open in December 2017, one in a besieged Damascus suburb and two in the Idlib countryside. IWPR also organised a digital security training in Washington DC for exiled activist group, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

The conclusions of a long-running IWPR project on the ways to build peace in Afghanistan have been presented at a public event in the capital Kabul. September, 20 2016. © IWPR



In Afghanistan, IWPR’s EU-funded human rights and good governance project trained more than 150 journalists in human rights reporting, supported the production of more than 60 in-depth human rights print and radio reports in three languages and helped establish six human rights watchdog desks. We also held 14 current affairs discussions involving an audience of more than 1,400 Afghan women and men, and held five radio forums that reached more than two million Afghans across the country’s five regions.

This (IWPR) conference inspired us to further strengthen the spirit of coexistence among Afghans.

Mohammad Omar Satay, High Peace Council in Kandahar, Afghanistan

The programme closed out its civil society peace-building project, which reached out to media, NGOs, officials and the public to develop ideas for conflict resolution and reconciliation. Our peace-building project has educated Afghans in remote parts of the country about the importance of peace and reconciliation, convinced government officials of their responsibilities towards their constituencies and improved the capacity of the country’s High Peace Council and CSO groups.

IWPR works with Afghan officials and civil society to help improve the flow of communications – assisting the government in developing a mechanism to provide information about its priorities and initiatives and creating channels to enable CSOs and the media to feedback to officials.


IWPR’s anti-Muslim/Rohingya hate speech monitoring project is helping identify and combat divisive speech in social and traditional media, engaging both those responsible and the audiences targeted.

IWPR’s small team of editors and social media monitors produced nearly 500 raw reports every three months, from which we chose to pursue investigative reporting and analyses on specific cases of potential hate speech. Our wide range of reports gained attention not only from the general public, but most notably from a popular leader of the nationalist Ma Ba Tha movement, underscoring our impact. The project also successfully established itself as a reliable source which local media regularly used for objective and independent views on hate speech monitoring in Burma. The project continually shared our findings and recommendations with like-minded groups as well as funding institutions tracking hate speech concerns in the country. We regularly publish these on our Facebook pages. Increasingly, followers – as well as donors – recognise patterns and trends as a result of our reporting.


Our project to build fiscal literacy and capacity among groups of ordinary citizens upholds IWPR’s uniquely integrated approach of education, community strengthening, networking, reporting and new technology to help press for greater accountability and service delivery.

Through IWPR-supported dialogues with government and IWPR’s training program on public finance, citizens like us were able to understand as well as add our voices to critical public finance processes of the local governments, especially in the proper use of people’s money.

Abner Francisco, President of WATCH (Watchful Advocates for Transparent, Clean & Honest Governance in North Cotabato, Philippines)

IWPR helped ten citizen groups deepen their understanding on issues surrounding public finance, right to information, civic participation and monitoring government service delivery. Two of these groups are located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where people remain poor and marginalised due to conflict and massive corruption. IWPR has trained nearly 150 people from these groups on how to scrutinise important public documents such as budgets and audit reports, as well as how to sustain their groups and launch campaign programmes. Many plan to spread these skills to new members. To make government monitoring and reporting more practical, we launched Citizen Interactive, a mobile phone-based system which allows citizens from even remote villages to monitor the quality of public goods and services and overall government performance just by sending free texts. The results of surveys we produced and texted to citizens to involve them in monitoring public performance will be published on our website (citizenaction.net) and social media pages.

sri lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka. November 29, 2016. Thousands of students protested near the Sri Lankan Parliament Tuesday against the Sri Lankan government’s plans to introduce private medical universities. © C. Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Our State Department-funded project, Lanka Advocate, continued to strengthen partnerships between rural CSOs and provincial journalists for human rights and good governance.

This initiative paved the way for the formation of the Citizen Forum for Social Empowerment that is bridging the trust gap between CSOs and the media. The project enabled a total of 16 rural CSOs and 25 journalists from five provinces to launch individual campaigns as well as collaborate in advocacy for under-reported issues such as women and gender-based violence, land reform, good governance and accountability and the rights of marginalised groups including refugees and persons with disabilities.

I highly recommend IWPR for organising this workshop… to upgrade the knowledge of journalists especially in the provinces. Through this, we can bring positive change to the media industry in Sri Lanka. I also want to thank IWPR for acting as a bridge between South and North journalists and bringing them to one place. This is what needs to be done in Sri Lanka for better reconciliation.

Kanchana Kumara, Journalis from Dambulla, Matale District, Sri Lanka

Our continual training and mentoring programme, public education efforts and modest funding support to CSO-journalist campaigns contributed to key legislative reforms in Sri Lanka, namely the passage in parliament of the Micro Finance Act No. 6 of 2016 and the Right to Information Act No. 12 of 2016. We are also building high-quality investigative reporting to support greater justice, reconciliation and public accountability, and there has been significant interest from established media.

Kyrgyz investigative reporters, winners of IWPR competition. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Dec. 9 2016. © IWPR


central a sia

IWPR Central Asia faces a context of increasing pressure on human rights defenders and shrinking media space. The IWPR office in Kazakstan closed in September 2016, and activities are now coordinated from Bishkek. IWPR developed and published dozens of news, features and radio spots on human rights issues, and good governance in the five countries of the region, including Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, working in five languages and reaching a widespread audience.

IWPR platform is a great opportunity to feature truly important analyses talking about the problems of vulnerable groups that have previously been hidden. It’s kind of a voice of democracy: open-minded, honest and objective.

Nadezhda Vladimirova, UN Women, Program Manager

IWPR’s Central Asian Bureau for Analytical Reporting (CABAR), a digital space for politicians, academics and other key groups to exchange ideas and offer ways to boost intergovernmental and regional cooperation, has become a recognised actor among the expert community locally and abroad.

IWPR in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan highlighted the risks of radicalisation through building local journalists’ capacity to report on freedom of religion as well as organising public discussion platforms with state representatives, involving more than 100 decision-makers, civil society and media representatives.

In Kygyzstan, IWPR also highlighted legislative initiatives including amendments to the media law and our work countering extremism was recognised with an invitation to a UN experts meeting.

IWPR’s EU-funded projects in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan continue to promote investigative journalism as an effective tool to ensure the transparency and accountability of state machinery, with 16 investigative reports produced that uncovered human rights violations and corruption in government bodies.

A new project in Tajikistan, launched over the summer, also aims to combat radicalisation by engaging media, civil society and youth towards greater understanding and informed decision-making.


The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to fund our media, CSO and anticorruption project in four key regions of Ukraine (Kiev, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odesa). Our work supports investigative reporting, capacity-building and collaboration between media and CSOs on accountability, as well as providing ethical conflict reporting and physical and digital security training. We provided a dozen small grants to media and CSO clusters in target regions, encouraging different sectors to work together. The project has also organised legal support and action to ensure investigations have impact.

I have considerably mastered my skills of developing project applications, better understood the whole range of corruptive schemes in the country and learnt more about available open databases and public data sets to use for the government oversight projects. But the most important was to receive constructive feedback and criticism from trainers which enabled me to improve initial ideas.

Olga Myrovych, Projects Manager of the Journalism School of the Ukrainian Catholic University

A demonstration in support of a Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko on trial in Russia. Lviv, Ukraine. March 10, 2016. © Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images

In August, IWPR brought 24 key players together from the four regions to exchange information, experiences and brainstorm new ideas for partnerships around corruption and public finance issues. Separately, in June IWPR launched a Norwegian embassy-funded Crimea project providing extensive security training and seed money support to activists from the Russian-supported breakaway region. In September in Georgia, two security workshops were conducted for a total of 24 Crimean journalists. Trainees learned about security issues such as preparing for detention, interrogation and counter surveillance to help them to better plan risks. Both groups also received digital security training. Mini-grants were also provided to eight media outlets/CSOs to enhance professional coverage of underreported Crimean issues.


IWPR Caucasus remains one of the region’s most authoritative sources of journalism training and reporting, reaching underrepresented communities across the physical and psychological barriers of the conflict divide.

For the first time, I was able to learn that in our society there are a number of gender-related problems. I never realised the depth of the problem, for example, the topic of domestic violence was totally new for me. During our training I realised how few, indeed, the connections between journalists and public organisations are.

Arifa Kapba, Abkhazia’s state TV channel

With mount Ararat in the background attendees laying down flowers at the Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, on the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Yerevan, Armenia. April 24, 2016. © A Rentz/Getty Images for 100 Lives

IWPR’s recent investigative report on female genital mutilation (FGM) in Georgia was widely praised and had significant public media impact. The president, the public defender and the minister of justice all publically condemned FGM and the government began discussing a legislative ban. Georgia’s leading channel Rustavi 2 dedicated an hour of its most popular broadcast to the report, featuring the IWPR team, and our story was nominated for the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics prize. Meantime, as travel remains restricted by the governments of two de facto republics of Georgia, we seek innovative approaches to increase the frequency of seminars and reduce the rising costs of meetings in third countries. We launched a webinar platform to allow trainees from Georgia’s breakaway republics to access contemporary journalism training, which will increase reporting from these closed areas, improve the mechanisms of early warning and help prevent future conflict. Also, in partnership with the Vilnius-based Eastern Europe Study Center, IWPR trained 16 journalists from the regions of Georgia. The authors of the three best pieces produced during the project then traveled to Lithuania for a study trip in September, during which they received further on-site training at leading local media houses. High-level public policy debates continue in Armenia, where experts engage, train and connect journalists with key specialists on issues related to Euro-Atlantic institutions, cross-border trade, regional integration and the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde talks with the media after meeting with Nigeria’s Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele at the Central Bank of Nigeria. Abuja, Nigeria. January 6, 2016. © Stephen Jaffe/IMF via Getty Images



IWPR Nigeria continued its Dutch-funded Open Minds pilot initiative, building on the Open Minds programming from Afghanistan and Pakistan – where Malala Yousafzai was one of our early trainees. The aim is to build critical thinking among youth and strengthen their resilience to radicalisation.

Investigative storytelling can be a life or death affair in Nigeria. You never know the enemies you will make and how far those enemies will go to silence you.

Chika Oduah, Multimedia journalist from Nigeria

There’s not much left of the Secondary School in Chibok where Boko Haram kidnapped 276 teenagers in the dead of night nearly two years ago. Chibok, Nigeria. March 25, 2016. © Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images

The Nigeria programme focuses on youth at risk from Boko Haram in the northern states. IWPR held a presentation on the project at the Dutch embassy in Abujan with two local schools. Forty students visited the embassy and engaged in a dialogue over social affairs with the Dutch first secretary and other officials. Issues discussed included government budget cuts to education, human rights, general governance, law and order, corruption, security, international diplomacy, youth development and , economic growth. A debate is now planned between the two schools.

IWPR staff visited Maiduguri, in Borno state, to investigate expanding programming there, and are investing significant effort into developing funding to continue and expand the initiative.

People line the side of the road while waiting for the caravan transporting the remains of former Cuban President Fidel Castro pass by on its four-day journey across the country. Camaguey, Cuba. December 2, 2016. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


IWPR organised the first-ever forum to focus on the independent journalism sector in Cuba, bringing together 72 journalists and civil society groups working on freedom of expression from around the region. Held in Miami, the forum provided a space where, for the first time, journalists from Cuba shared their views and concerns and built common strategies on relevant issues, such as a law to protect journalists in response to the Cuban government’s proposal to ban independent media. Perhaps the most interesting outcome was the coming together of older and younger generations of Cuban independent journalists, who had previously viewed each other with mistrust.

I’ve never attended an event where people held such substantially different views. I had no idea how much good that does for us as human beings.

Elaine Diaz, Independent Cuban journalist

Elsewhere, thanks to IWPR, a group of Cuban journalists gained full access to the Panama Papers and published one of the first articles demonstrating links between Cuban officials and private offshore companies. Moreover, the journalists learned how to handle such massive data stores and build stories from them, providing them with useful skills for future work in investigative and data journalism. Several CSOs have already used the tools and methodologies provided to them through our projects. For example, one organisation independently started a communications and advocacy campaign for the release of a political prisoner, following IWPR methodologies regarding campaign design and several of the communications tools learned through our project. Likewise, IWPR’s digital security work in Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Honduras, which started in mid-2016, has shown early signs of acceptance and sustainability. In Honduras for example, IWPR’s gender-appropriate workshops have been replicated within a network of 16 women human-rights defender organisations. In Venezuela, where independent voices are increasingly at risk, IWPR’s partner has taken the issue of digital security to an assembly of national CSOs, which has agreed to integrate a secure communications system to allow them to network safely.

Such a profound preparation in journalism is not on offer for Cubans anywhere, and now it only remains to try to reproduce this preparation among my colleagues on the island.

An IWPR trainee from Cuba


IWPR’s Safety Awareness and Action project aims to build digital security skills among rights defenders and strengthen institutional resilience in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region against acute digital threats, data loss and privacy breaches. The project also targets women’s rights organisations at risk in the MENA region and in Latin America to help avoid or mitigate gender-specific, technology-based violence and threats.

Our new digital security protocols have allowed us to have a safer, more fluid and open communication with our team. Before it was difficult to share sensitive information, but now it is possible thanks to mechanisms we have learned (in IWPR training) to protect information.

A woman working for a human rights organisation in Venezuela

In the Middle East region this autumn, 12 LGBTI activists from Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco received digital security training using IWPR’s newly-developed curriculum on topics such as Secure Passwords, Mobile Phone Security, Safe Browsing, Anonymity and Circumvention, Data Backup and Recovery, Safe Social Networking and Secure Data Storage. IWPR provided nine women and 12 men from Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara and Morocco with similar training.

Our first regional Latin America digital security meeting was held this summer in Quito, Ecuador, gathering representatives from women’s rights groups from Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Honduras to provide basic training on digital safety.


IWPR is grateful for the support of private foundations, individual donors and government agencies. This broad support enables us to maintain intensive programs while avoiding over-dependence on any single source. We are especially grateful to those donors who support us through multi-year assistance to strengthen existing activities and those who provide precious institutional assistance.


In 2016 IWPR cooperated with many international partners to inform and enrich our work, increase our effectiveness and efficiency and extend our outreach and impact. Partners included major broadcasters and publications, leading international human rights groups, media support and training institutes, universities and research groups/think tanks.

Special thanks to the following:

  • Adroit
  • BBC Media Action
  • Deutsche Welle Akademie
  • European Commission
  • Foreign Commonwealth Office
  • Hivos
  • Getty Images
  • International Alert
  • International Media Support
  • Partners for Democratic Change
  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • National Endowment for Democracy
  • Netherlands Embassy in Rwanda
  • Sigrid Rausing Trust
  • Swedish Embassy in Rwanda
  • UN Women
  • US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
  • US Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
  • The US-Middle East Partnership Initiative