Fondation Hirondelle has been active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2002. Between 2002 and 2014, it contributed to the creation and development of Radio Okapi, the radio station of the United Nations mission in the country (see presentation here). Since 2014, Fondation Hirondelle has focused its action in the DRC on information of general interest, targeting the two priority audiences of youth and women. This is to promote their civic engagement and a more inclusive public debate. The network of partner media created and run by the Studio Hirondelle DRC team, now includes 102 partner radio stations (mainly community radio stations, but also commercial radio stations); and 23 television stations. This network is the most structured in the country. It represents more than 25% of the Congolese media landscape.
Following its policy of supporting media and independent information, Fondation Hirondelle in the DRC provides production and distribution of news content, technical training, as well as structuring support to generate revenue for the network of media partners. These supports began in 2004 and were reinforced between 2010 and 2017 as part of the Media Sector Development Program (MSDP), led by the NGO Internews in partnership with Fondation Hirondelle, thanks to funding from USAID.
Studio Hirondelle DRC continues to expand this support for public information and to the Congolese media through the «Citizen Media for Public Life» project, a national programme launched in 2017 and supported by the Swedish, British and Dutch cooperations. At the heart of this programme are themes related to the major development challenges for the DRC, such as governance, the environment and human rights.
The productions are multimedia: audio (a national magazine, portraits, columns...), video (Motion Design, portraits...), and enriched by debate programmes with the public (« Hirondelle Débats ») for a dialogue with experts on social issues.
This content is distributed on the Fondation Hirondelle's partner media network, and on social networks (Facebook).
In addition, in 2019 and 2020, Studio Hirondelle DRC has implemented a similar programme in the Kasaï region (provinces of Kasaï and Central Kasaï), to support young people as peaceful leaders of change, while local populations were victims of mass violence in 2016 and 2017. With financial support from the European Union, this 18-month project further enhanced support for local, useful and reliable information, and also allowed the strengthening of a network of 18 radio partners.
Since January 2021, Studio Hirondelle DRC has been implementing a project that aims to strengthen the institutional capacities of the media and the professionalization of journalists for a better participation of citizens in the development and governance processes in South Kivu (Eastern DRC). This two-year project enables journalists to improve the quality of the content they produce, with a focus on citizen debates that promote the involvement of women. At the same time, the managers of the targeted media are also trained to master the tools for a more efficient management of their media (financial management and gender inclusiveness). This project is funded by the Swiss Cooperation Office in the DRC.
- Contribute to the consolidation of a democratic society in the DRC through the diversification and improvement of the media offer of general interest, particularly for young people and women.
- Produce and disseminate media content aimed particularly at young people and women in the DRC to provide them with the information they need to participate more effectively in public life, and to promote the visibility of their initiatives for peace and development.
- Strengthen media partners through structuring coordination and actions that improve journalistic, editorial, managerial and income-generation skills.
- «We don’t know how to contact our national and provincial elected officials to ask them about the different situations we are experiencing in our neighbourhoods. In this debate, I have just learned that in local elections we will elect those who will work close to us. Then I will vote and I will be able to seize them, and get in touch witzh them»
Véronique Basampi, a saleswoman at the Ngaba market.
- «The campaign had a positive impact, as listeners went to the voter lists posted in the polling centres, as witnessed by the Sister Director and President of the EP KISEVERE polling centre, and the Director and President of the EP VUVUGHO polling centre to confirm their participation in the upcoming elections»
The Director of the Kanyabayonga Rural Radio in North Kivu province about the broadcasting of spots produced by the Studio Hirondelle DRC in partnership with the NGOCounterpart.