The Carmignac Photojournalism Award was created in 2009 with the aim of supporting photographers working in the field covering important issues such as human rights violations and changing political landscapes.

Since then, every year a laureate has been chosen by an international jury to receive a grant to carry out a six-month field report that is turned into a travelling exhibition afterwards. With much of the world in lockdown right now, this year’s recipient, UK photographer Finbarr O’Reilly has been unable to cover his chosen destination of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but he has come up with a creative solution; to recruit local people to help tell the story of their country.

Finbarr O’Reilly was recently granted the eleventh edition of the award for his reportage proposal in DRC. His work began in January, but due to border closures, he will be unable to continue travelling through the African country. This led to himself and the award team re-conceiving the approach to adapt their reportage amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The Democratic Republic of Congo also recently experienced new cases of Ebola.

Finbarr O'Reilly for Fondation Carmignac
A Red Cross burial worker shows a man how to put on protective gloves amidst new Ebola cases © Finbarr O'Reilly for Fondation Carmignac

The resulting project is Congo in Conversation, a collaborative digital reportage produced with Congolese journalists and photographers, including Arlette Bashizi, Justin Makangara, Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro, Baron Nkoy, Moses Sawasawa, Ley Uwera, Bernadette Vivuya, Pamela Tulizo, Guylain Balume and Steve Wembi. 

Transmitted via a dedicated website and the Carmignac Award’s social networks, Congo in Conversation includes new articles, photo reports and videos documenting the human, social, and ecological challenges faced in DRC today in the context of an unprecedented health crisis. 

Arlette Bashizi Congo
In early April, three days after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the eastern city of Goma, a woman is given disinfectant in the city's Katoyi neighbourhood, where residents do not have easy access to water © Arlette Bashizi for Fondation Carmignac

"The response in the media has been strong – as suggested by the international coverage, and we plan to build on that momentum to keep growing the project as we expand onto other platforms such as YouTube and Medium. The response of the Congolese journalists is also important and they have met the challenge of delivering a high level of visual reportage despite the challenges of working in the current environment,” Finbarr O’Reilly told Lonely Planet.

More information on the project is available at the official Congo in Conversation website.

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