Reporting from the Sahara on Dune Voices Website

Published: 12 May 2015

Region: Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Mali, Libya

Dune_Voices_MauritaniaCan you imagine what a life might look alike in today’s Libya? Or how disabled women from Timbuktu manage to live with stigma following them on every step? Do the Jews in south-east Morocco feel they belong to the wider community or whether there is way to end slavery in some parts of Mauritania?

The answers to these questions and much more can be found on Dune Voices, a multimedia platform for unheard voices and communities in Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco and Libya. Articles and features produced and published on Dune Voices specialise in covering the topics of marginalised groups and minorities, vulnerable and forgotten by the mainstream media. They have been already republished on several other media outlets since the platform created by the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) in 2014 has become a source of an accurate, independent and diverse reporting.


“A black-skinned reporter in Mali can experience problems if he is reporting from white Moors’ region,” explains Mohammed Fall, owner of the daily La Tribune. “So they would need to send white Moor journalists to Timbuktu and black Mauritanian to Bamako,” adds Al Haiba from Al Akhbar news La Tribune and Al Akhbar news are among more than 50 media outlets across the region which regularly re-produce  Dune Voices’ stories.


Dune_Voices_MaliBut for some media outlets the problem can be found in a lack of funding to send correspondents to the certain areas. Access to the reporting zone at the heart of Sahara is expensive and dailies such as Mauritanian Le Quotidien de Nouakchott, are lacking resources to send staff.

The owner Moussa Samba Sy thinks that the economic issues are a major problem: “Al Akhbar is firing its staff, ANI is limiting number of new daily editions. So support from Dune Voices is helping in content provision. Sahel TV, AL Akhbar, Al Watan (from Algeria) and ANI have special envoys to the region when needed. But, other regional media outlets cannot afford that,” says Samba Sy.

Dune Voices stories are in particular focused on the conflict areas like Timbuktu, Kidal, Gao in Mali, Benghazi, Derna, Oubari and Kofra in Libya.

In the view of Nabil Cheikh, head of PR for Mauritanian Centre for research and Humanities  (MABDAA) this might present a challenge for Dune  Voices team. «If I understand your editorial line, you are going to be everyone’s enemy. From territorial administration which does not want an alternative source of information, to the ministries who do not want their reports being contradicted by specific testimonies and proven cases, to the civil society actors who do not want to have yet another competitor», says Cheikh.

But Sahara represents a great diversity of people, culture, traditions. And what is needed to be able to access people forgotten by the media, as Professor from Morocco Mustafa Naimi would put it, “is the relevance”. “Opinion leaders and media leaders lack professional credibility due to their conceptual failure to enable direct communication between people,” explains Naimi.

Dune Voices has 72 journalists trained to the highest standards of diversity reporting, conflict reporting and multimedia production. Several opinion leaders  from the region have been involved with the project too.  Apart from them and the journalists, Dune Voices gather media experts, civil society activists,  historians and antropologists, all those eager to be  contributing to a greater understanding of the issues of security, human rights and development in the Sahara.