The Bertha Challenge is an opportunity for activists and investigative journalists to spend a year focussing on one pressing social justice issue.

 

Successful applicants receive a non-residential paid fellowship and a project budget to work independently and together to:

Investigate the causes of and solutions to the annual
Bertha Challenge question

Amplify their findings to a wider targeted audience

Connect with diverse stakeholders for information, support and sustainable impact

At Bertha we know that many activists and investigative journalists are already doing ground-breaking work to investigate social justice issues, to amplify their work and to connect with audiences. The Bertha Challenge aims to support this by providing time to work exclusively on projects, the spaces in which to connect with a diverse global cohort of Bertha Fellows, and the resources to develop tangible products speaking directly to the Challenge question.

Our Fellowships offer:

  • Income for each Bertha Fellow for one year
  • A Project Fund for each Bertha Fellow to produce a culminating product that responds to the question posed by the Bertha Challenge
  • A Connect Fund specifically designed to encourage collaboration between Fellows
  • Peer and mentor support in the form of regular virtual check-ins with Bertha staff and a cohort of Bertha Fellows
  • Global convenings of Bertha Fellows at the start and end of the Bertha Challenge.

The Bertha Challenge 2023

How is the relationship between politics and corporate control of our food systems contributing to environmental devastation and hunger and how can food production center people and nutrition rather than profit?

Previous Bertha Challenge Questions

Meet the Fellows

The 2023 Bertha Challenge Fellows

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Julia Dauksza

Investigative Journalist

Lina Isma’il

Activist

David Kabanda

Activist

Ana Larrañaga

Activist

Lindsey Loberg

Activist

Brezh Malaba

Investigative Journalist

Sara Manisera

Investigative Journalist

Bruno Martins Morais

Activist

Marius Münstermann

Investigative Journalist

Tharma Pillai

Activist

Annie Ruth Sabangan

Investigative Journalist

Ian Yee

Investigative Journalist

Explore Past Projects

Bertha Challenge 2022 Fellows

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  • Mustafah Abdulaziz

    Mustafah traveled to Svalbard, the polar regions of Canada, Greenland and northern Alaska to document the changing landscape at a time of unprecedented climate impact.




  • AnuOluwapo Adelakun

    AnuOluwapo traveled to five different states in Nigeria and produced a documentary series about the dynamics behind the lack of access of many Nigerians to clean water.




  • Shinji Carvalho

    Shinji spent their Fellowship year traveling between Indigenous communities, urban peripheries and small farmers in Brazil, who face extreme threats from land grabbing, mining, logging and the hostile political environment. They wrote a book documenting the water challenges that communities face.

  • Fumba Chama

    Fumba worked intimately with grassroots and community groups to produce ‘LIFELESS’ – a music album on water access and political power in Zambia.





  • Tommy Greene

    Tommy used his Bertha Challenge Fellowship to write a series of investigative articles on the industrial scale sand dredging in Lough Neagh, one of biggest freshwater lake systems in north-western Europe.






  • Maria Hernandez May

    Maria created three short films on how relationships between politics and profit are contributing to the degradation of Guåhan’s (Guam) main freshwater aquifer and the contamination of the island’s coastal waters.






  • Luisa Izuzquiza

    With Jelena Prtorić (journalist Fellow, Germany), Jelena conducted an in-depth investigation into the quality of water in the EU, focusing specifically on agricultural pollution by pesticides and nutrients. Together they created a ‘water hub’ website housing their investigations and activist resources.


  • Pascalinah Kabi

    Pascalinah spent her Fellowship year investigating the devastating impact of mining on water in Lesotho. She focused on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the imbalance between the development of water resources for commercial and mining industries with community water priorities. In addition to her articles, Pascalinah wrote a book on her investigations, and produced a short film and podcast.

  • Abdikhayr Mohamed Hussein

    Abdikhayr worked with various clans among rural communities in Somalia affected by severe drought and prolonged water conflicts to develop a guidance handbook for the fair and sustainable management of shared water sources.


  • Fredrick Mugira

    Fredrick wrote a series of articles and created a short documentary on the impact of plastic pollution on Uganda’s Rift Valley lakes. He wrote about sources of plastic pollution, the companies responsible for manufacturing single use plastic bottles and the failures by local authorities to enforce environmental standards.

  • Musuk Nolte

    Musuk traveled to different territories in Peru to photograph communities’ relationships to water. He organized a workshop and exhibition with young people in Belén, where communities live on raised buildings above contaminated river water for eight months of the year. Musuk published his work as usable art in the form of poster books.

  • Jelena Prtorić

    With Luisa Izuzquiza (activist Fellow, Belgium), Jelena conducted an in-depth investigation into the quality of water in the EU, focusing specifically on agricultural pollution by pesticides and nutrients. Together they created a ‘water hub’ website housing their investigations and activist resources.

Explore Past Projects

Bertha Challenge 2021 Fellows

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  • Abiose Adelaja Adams

    Abiose published a series of articles on the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta. She used her reports to write and stage a play about the devastating cost of oil extraction in Ogoniland.

  • LJ Amsterdam

    LJ organized ‘tac hack’ workshops – spaces for New York activists to come up with new and imaginative direct-action tactics. Alongside this, she built an activist digital resource commons.

  • Yasna Carolina Mussa Valenzuela

    Yasna investigated the impact of lithium extraction in Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, used for electric car production in Europe.

  • Linh Do

    Linh worked with campaign groups in Australia to design tailored engagement strategies on supporting and cultivating climate activism.

  • Federico Etiene Zuvire Cruz

    Fede produced three films, telling the stories of three women in Guatemala resisting profit-driven destruction of Indigenous territories.

  • Juan Francisco Donoso

    Juan created a series of educational materials for young people in Germany on the topic of lithium mining in South America for the German electric car market.

  • Dan Ilic

    In addition to growing his weekly, award-winning satire podcast, A Rational Fear, Dan launched a new, monthly, climate-focussed podcast called Greatest Moral Podcast of Our Generation.

  • Andrea Isabel Ixchiú Hernández

    Andrea produced three films, telling the stories of three women in Guatemala resisting profit-driven destruction of Indigenous territories.

  • Antonia Juhasz

    Antonia published a series of articles analyzing the state of the oil industry through a critical period that included the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 U.S. election.

  • Alex Kelly

    Alex created ‘The Planting’, a speculative audio performance that invites audiences to imagine a more hopeful and just future, and the pragmatic steps needed to get there.

  • Narrira Lemos de Souza

    Narrira provided digital security training and resources to threatened environmental activists and Indigenous land defenders in Brazil.


  • Michael Owen Snyder

    Mike traveled around Chesapeake Bay, photographing and interviewing residents about rising sea levels that threaten the U.S.’s largest estuary, and the communities and wetland habitats that live alongside it.

  • Bhrikuti Rai

    Bhrikuti investigated how collusion between legislators and the construction industry in Nepal is enabling ecologically disastrous sand mining in the Chure Hills.


  • Charles Saki

    Charles produced a series of articles, a short documentary and a book, investigating how corruption and mismanagement have led to a failure of basic sanitation services in Harare, Zimbabwe.

  • Angeles Solis

    Angeles led a survey with Amazon employees and community members on Staten Island, New York, to capture the impact of Amazon’s warehouse growth.


  • Puah Sze Ning

    Sze Ning produced a short video toolkit to provide accessible information for Indigenous Orang Asli communities in Malaysia that are returning to their customary lands.

  • Elroi Yee

    Elroi documented the detrimental impact that logging is having on the customary lands of Orang Asli communities in Malaysia.


Explore Past Projects

Bertha Challenge 2020 Fellows

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  • Yaşar Adnan Adanali

    Yaşar developed an interactive digital archive demonstrating “hopeful” alternative solutions to housing crises around the world.


  • Leilani Farha

    Leilani launched The Shift – a new global network of activists and progressive policy makers focused on the de-commodification of housing.

  • Glenda Girón

    Glenda investigated the devastating link between large scale agriculture and epidemic levels of chronic kidney disease among workers and their families on plantations in Central America.

  • Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu

    Nnaemeka produced a 10-part radio drama series telling the story of the exploitation of smallholder farmers by oil and gas companies in the Niger Delta.

  • Dr. Monica Magoke-Mhoja

    Dr. Monica launched Women and Land – a Tanzanian campaign focussed on closing the gap between law and practice on women’s land rights.

  • Maeve McClenaghan

    Maeve worked with an extensive network of local media outlets investigating the inaccessibility and dire lack of social housing across the UK.

  • Protus Onyango

    Protus reported on how collusion between politicians and the land registry has led to land-grabbing and community evictions in Kenya.


  • Rudra Pangeni

    Rudra conducted a series of investigations into how a lack of regulation and corruption has led to unaffordable and unsafe housing in Nepal.

  • Zsuzsanna Pósfai

    Zsuzsanna brought together activists and progressive researchers to discuss responses to rising household debt – and its impact on homelessness – in Eastern and Southern Europe.

  • Omar Radi

    Omar investigated cases of state-sanctioned land expropriation of rural communities in Morocco.



  • Jared Rossouw

    Jared explored effective tactics activists can use to influence housing policy decisions at the local government level, culminating in an online activist educational tool.

  • Elfie Seymour

    Elfie worked with Belfast housing activists to produce alternative public policies and plans showing progressive possibilities for social housing on public land.

  • Sotiris Sideris

    Sotiris investigated the impact of the commodification of housing in Greece on levels of homelessness and inadequate accommodation for refugees in Athens.

  • Charice Starr

    Charice developed popular education strategies and tools to build networks, campaigns and power for land reclamation and racial justice campaigns in the American South.

  • Rory Winters

    Rory investigated the inadequate levels of social housing in Belfast, revealing religious disparities between housing provision.

Image and Video credits: Smallholders Foundation, Participation and the Practice of Rights – Build Homes Now campaign, Reclaim the City, Elroi Yee, Sammy Richards, Jeevan Bhujel, Miki Redelinghuys & Tim Wege, Plexus Films

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