Hamzat Lawal has emerged as one of the top finalists in the competition for the Gothenburg Sustainability Award. He is the only African shortlisted alongside four others for this stage of the competition. The competition received 64 nominations from 34 countries around the world.
Lawal is an anti-corruption activist and the founder of Follow The Money. He has been shortlisted for the sustainability award because of his work with Follow The Money.
He started Follow The Money in 2012 after finding out that about 700 children that died in Bagega, Zamfara state was underreported. Scant reports claimed that 400 children had died, 1500 were very sick and their environment was contaminated. He launched the campaign called #Savebagega which went viral and got the attention of the government.
Within 72 hours of the campaign, the federal government approved a sum of $5.3 million for the cause. Lawal started following the movement of the money from Abuja to Zamfara and then to the Bagega community.
Follow The Money is a social enterprise that comprises a team of technology and innovation-driven campaigners including data analysts and journalists. The organization tracks the use of public funds to ensure that it is handled with accountability and compliance at the forefront.
Every year, $4 billion is lost to corruption across the world, according to Emma Dalvag, chairperson of the WIN WIN award jury. Fighting corruption is therefore a courageous task.
Responding to his selection as one of the finalists, Hamzat Lawal said, “the work of Follow The Money is tackling corruption in government’s funding and ensuring that everyone, even in the remote areas, has equal access to basic needs.”
“More importantly, during this COVID pandemic where our lives have been changed and altered, trying to build back better should be the ultimate goal. I am honoured that the Gothenburg Sustainability Award recognises our efforts in this regard.”
In addition to Follow The Money, four other teams made it to the finalist stage. They are Icelandic whistleblower, Jóhannes Stefánsson; Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA); US-based The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; and Italy’s lead prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri.
The winner of the WIN WIN award gets the cash prize of $120,000 from the non-profit organization. The theme for the 2020 award was Biodiversity and the prize was won by The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Past winners include former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Kofi Annan, and former American Vice President, Al Gore.
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