COVID-19 in the Sahel: Fondation Hirondelle adapts its content to Mali and Niger

June 17, 2020

With the spread of COVID-19 in Africa, and in particular in the Sahel region, Studio Tamani and Studio Kalangou have adapted their content while continuing to pursue the same objective of ensuring that young people are able to access reliable information.

Since March 2020, the programmes presented by Studio Tamani in Mali and Studio Kalangou in Niger, both of which are MediaSahel partners, have been redefined to ensure that they are in line with the health guidelines associated with the pandemic. Studio Tamani, which broadcasts 3 hours 15 minutes of live material daily via a network of 75 partner radio stations, and Studio Kalangou, which broadcasts 2 hours of live material via a network of 41 partner radio stations, take care of production from their respective studios, but with smaller teams working in shifts. Strict compliance with preventative measures is ensured: social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing of face masks where necessary and possible.

In Mali, the format of the "Tous au Grin" programmes has been overhauled: they are no longer recorded in public spaces, new features have been created and the guest speakers are able to record their speeches prior to broadcast. In Niger, the "Tous à la Fada" programme, which takes place outside of the studio, has continued to be broadcast and gives young people the opportunity to express themselves, to contribute to raising awareness and to open the minds of "COVID sceptics".
Subjects such as “COVID-19, young people in Niamey placed under a curfew: what are their opinions?" and “Raising awareness of COVID-19: impacts on young people and improvement of the system" have been discussed in the “Fada".

Recording “Tous à la Fada"/ Photo by: Daouda Karimou / Studio Kalangou

Since April 2019, it has also been possible to access the various programmes produced by Studio Tamani by calling a freephone local number operated by Viamo and Orange. Reaching a wide audience, this new broadcasting platform, which increases the radio audience, resulted in more than 7 million calls from around 600,000 unique numbers in March 2020

Mouhamadou Touré and his guests / Studio Tamani

At Studio Kalangou, since the end of February 2020, it has been possible to access broadcasts in three languages – French, Hausa and Zarma – by calling the freephone number 325 operated by Airtel. Messages about the COVID-19 pandemic have been available on that same platform since April 2020. According to recent data, " 227,989 calls have been made to 325 from 36,876 different numbers for Studio Kalangou's programmes. 63% of people listened to the programme in Hausa and 33% listened to the Zarma version. The majority of the calls came from the Niamey, Maradi and Tillabéry regions." (Source: Fondation Hirondelle).

This new system has proven particularly successful in some of the more poorly connected areas targeted by the MediaSahel project. " When I was visiting my family," explained one listener, "I found that my village was suffering from a lack of information, particularly in this time of coronavirus. Not only is there no radio receiver in the village, there is also no network to connect to. However, 325 allowed me to follow all the news and provide information to people within my community. [...] You have really helped the population with your adverts".

Recording “Tous à la Fada" in Place Lt-Col Hassane Anoutab / Studio Kalangou

  • To follow these programmes through Studio Tamani and receive news in Bambara, Songhai, Fula, Tamasheq or French on WhatsApp, sign up on the studio's website, text “jeune" to +223 76 62 88 51 or follow Studio Tamani on Facebook.
  • To follow the youth programmes through Studio Kalangou and receive news on WhatsApp, sign up on the studio's website, text “Jeune" to +227 80 06 88 54 or follow Studio Kalangou on Facebook.

The youth programmes produced by Studio Tamani and Studio Kalangou are broadcast under the MediaSahel project and are the result of a collaboration between CFI and Fondation Hirondelle.