Overcoming COVID-19: Radio stations get involved: the new special programme launched by UNALFA

June 11, 2020

The media play a crucial role when it comes to sharing information about the global coronavirus pandemic. It is with this in mind that UNALFA has set out to produce a special programme with a national focus.

COVID-19 has already caused the death of 53 people in Burkina Faso, according to the official figures released by the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health on 4 June 2020. At the same time, the presence of coronavirus in the country is giving rise to a flow of false or inaccurate information that is undermining the strategies put in place to combat outbreaks of the disease.

Faced with this situation, UNALFA launched a radio programme entitled "Overcoming COVID-19: Radio stations get involved". This initiative, supported by CFI, brings together around fifty radio stations in Burkina Faso to work towards a shared objective: "To inform, raise awareness and act together". It is designed as a citizen's forum allowing listeners to share reliable information on the pandemic but also to talk to scientists who are invited to take part in order to answer their questions.

Two types of broadcast have therefore been created – those with a citizen-centred component and those that allow discussion with experts. Coronavirus-related topics, which is where the most significant information deficit has been observed, are dealt with under a number of different headings: "Kibaria Covid news", "An overview of our regions", "Good to know", "True or false", or even the "Facebook journalist", who injects a little humour into the broadcasts.

Each segment is then interpreted into local languages - Moré, Dyula, Fulfulde and Gourmantché. Citizens' initiatives and information messages shared by the Ministry of Health are also broadcast during the programme.

Around thirty programmes produced in three months

Launched in April 2020, the project will produce a total of 36 programmes that will be broadcast until July 2020, at a rate of 12 per month: every Monday and Friday for the citizens' programme, and every Wednesday and Sunday for the programme involving experts.

Listener surveys have already shown that the first programmes, which were dedicated to providing information about preventative actions, social distancing measures and medical aspects (symptoms of the disease, motherhood during the pandemic, etc.), were particularly relevant. Topics such as "the economic and social aspects of the crisis", "the link between the pandemic and the issue of security" and "the daily life of displaced persons during the COVID-19 period" are next on the agenda.

UNALFA's special programmes on coronavirus are hosted by a team of young journalists from Burkina Faso. Their aim is to maximise the impact of the messages on young people, who are MédiaSahel's main target audience.

The MédiaSahel project is supported by the French Development Agency (AFD). This new content is also funded by the AFD as part of the French COVID 19 - Health in Common initiative