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 convening of Bertha Fellows at the start of the Bertha Challenge.

The Bertha Challenge 2025

How is the interconnectedness between corporate interests and political power in farming contributing to the global climate crisis and what do people and communities do to expose and counter this?

Previous Bertha Challenge Questions

Meet the Fellows

The 2024 Bertha Challenge Fellows

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Salim Abu Jabal

Activist

Ivan Brehaut Larrea

Investigative Journalist

Oyunchimeg Demchig

Activist

Patrick Egwu

Investigative Journalist

Dennis Orengo Juma

Activist

Pato Kelesitse

Activist

Bambang Catur Nusantara

Activist

Karin Kőváry Sólymos

Investigative Journalist

I Gusti Gede Maha Suasana Adi

Investigative Journalist

Stefano Valentino

Investigative Journalist

Liubov Velychko

Investigative Journalist

Explore Past Projects

Bertha Challenge 2023 Fellows

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  • Julia Dauksza

    Julia’s Bertha Challenge project explores how corporate governance is transforming agriculture and food production in Central and Eastern Europe with a specific focus on pork farming.





  • Lina Isma’il

    Through the creation of a film, Lina aimed to raise awareness of the interlinked impacts of politics and profit on local agricultural production systems in Palestine, and provide tools and evidence for activists to contribute to strengthening the food sovereignty movement in Palestine.


  • David Kabanda

    David’s project shed light on how the government’s failure to regulate the food sector in Uganda has led to violations of the right to adequate food by corporate and political elites.





  • Ana Larrañaga

    Through a series of case studies, Ana documented how the commercial interests of different industries exert power to influence food systems in Mexico. She linked the results of her research with the living efforts of different NGOs, activists, and communities working in defence of native maize, plastics regulation, and consumer information.

  • Lindsey Loberg

    Lindsey’s Bertha Challenge project focused on the alliance between charitable food, corporations and politics. They have created a curriculum for grassroots, non-profit food distributors to challenge this relationship through solidarity practices, narrative building, participatory strategies, collective power-building, and visioning activities.

  • Brezh Malaba

    Brezhnev’s investigation delved into the imperatives of ecologically friendly and sustainable agriculture, shining the spotlight on both the deficiencies and opportunities for prosperity in Zimbabwe.




  • Sara Manisera

    Sara investigates which wheat is used to make the pasta exported under the ‘Made in Italy’ label, where it is produced, who the importers are, where the price speculation mechanism takes place and which industrial groups control the pasta market.



  • Bruno Martins Morais

    Bruno investigated food security in Indigenous territories within Brazil, their relationship with international supply chains, deforestation and climate change.





  • Marius Münstermann

    For his Bertha Challenge project, Marius focused on soil health in agriculture. Analyzing the European Union’s political frameworks as well as the economic forces that lead to the degradation of agricultural soils, he investigated the investment, research and lobbying strategies of major European agribusiness corporations.

  • Tharma Pillai

    For his Bertha Challenge Fellowship, Tharma worked with journalist Fellow, Ian Yee, to build Lawan Lapar – a movement to achieve food security and end malnutrition in Malaysia, via the empowerment of farmers and the democratization of farming.



  • Greta Rico

    Greta worked with four rural communities in Mexico City documenting the impact on nutrition of Mexico’s failure to protect local farmers from genetically modified-seeds, as well as the effects of climate change in traditional native maize agriculture.


  • Annie Ruth Sabangan

    Annie Ruth produced a series of multimedia investigative reports that examined the impacts of industrial and monocropped food systems in Mindanao, southern Philippines, focusing on health, human rights and the environment.



  • Ian Yee

    Ian worked with activist Fellow, Tharma Pillai, to address growing food insecurity in Malaysia through the democratization of farming. Together they have created a documentary and explainer series to raise awareness about the corruption, rent-seeking and corporate greed that have led to alarming levels of hunger and child stunting. They have also developed an online academy platform for poor communities to learn smallholder farming practices, and advocacy tools to safeguard farmers’ rights.

Explore Past Projects

Bertha Challenge 2022 Fellows

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  • 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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