Getting the word out on COVID-19 across Africa
As Covid-19 progresses in Africa, never has Fondation Hirondelle's media and news programs been more important. Using traditional radio broadcasts and increasingly popular mobile phone broadcasts, the Fondation was able throughout the crisis to continue to broadcast and keep listeners informed on the local impact of the campaign. Every effort was also made to maintain a safe working environment for the Fondation’s editorial workers.Teleworking was thus able to be set up entirely in Madagascar for the Studio Sifaka team, and partially in Burkina Faso for Studio Yafa and the Democratic Republic of Congo for Studio Hirondelle RDC in Kinshasa and Kasaï. In Central African Republic, Mali, and Niger, Fondation Hirondelle radios studios continue to broadcast throughout the pandemic to more than 128 radio stations. Studios were staffed by rotating teams practicing physical distancing regular hand washing and wearing a mask when necessary and possible. Millions received Covid-related information in broadcasts in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso made on their mobile phone. This increasingly popular form of communication allowed more than seven million to receive phone broadcasts. This unique initiative was enabled partnership with the social enterprise Viamo and Orange, using local ‘325’ toll-free numbers. "(When I was in the village to visit the family, I had found a drought of information especially in this period of coronavirus because there is no radio and no network to connect. But with the 325 number I followed all the new,” posted one listener on WhatsApp. her Kalangou's WhatsApp group. All these measures enabled Fondation journalists to inform local populations with regular news updates as well as initiating awareness campaigns. This was in addition to the daily non-Covid news on elections, conflicts, daily life, economy, and culture. For example, correspondents from Mali’s Studio Tamani covered legislative elections despite heightened security challenges. In the Central African Republic, Radio Ndeke Luka, for example, launched a radio campaign called "All the advice to fight the Covid-19 pandemic", in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO. This campaign consists of spots in Sango and French, awareness programs and messages, health magazines on the coronavirus, and round tables on the follow-up of the actions carried out by WHO Central Africa.