Fondation Hirondelle has developed a programme to contribute to the fight against misinformation related to the COVID19 crisis in 6 African countries (Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, DRC and Cameroon). A programme supported by the European Union's Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).
The aim of this programme, which was initiated in April, is to provide people with reliable information that meets their evolving concerns. To achieve this, Fondation Hirondelle coordinates the work of its newsrooms in five countries (Studio Tamani in Mali, Studio Kalangou in Niger, Studio Yafa in Burkina Faso, Radio Ndeke Luka in the CAR, Studio Hirondelle in the DRC) and a partner in Cameroon (CCMN - Cameroon Community Media Network), with the help of a centralized editorial unit specializing in fact-checking. This approach aims to strengthen the resilience of the populations struggling with this health crisis and to limit attempts to use information, which are recurrent during health crises, especially in countries where tensions and conflicts exist permanently.
The editorial hub is composed of a programme officer specialising in public health and 2 training journalists specialised in fact-checking and experienced in supporting radio stations in Africa. Each newsroom has also been strengthened by the assignment of a reporter to act as a point of reference for all information related to the COVID crisis. To guarantee the quality of the information provided on the disease, Fondation Hirondelle has also insisted on the networking of its editorial offices and partners with the coordination mechanisms set up by the authorities and health response actors in each of the countries. The aim is also to promote synergies between different initiatives that are moving in the same direction, as is the case in Burkina Faso, for example, where Fondation Hirondelle's Studio Yafa has been commissioned by the UNHCR to carry out an information project for displaced persons.
The hub has thus been able to support newsrooms as closely as possible to their needs and to strengthen the quality of the information provided, particularly in terms of managing rumours. The hub guides the teams on a daily basis to jointly identify the subjects and angles to be dealt with according to rumours or current concerns among the population (for each country), recommending reliable sources and software tools for fact-checking, preparing scripts for radio treatments, web content, computer graphics, mini-videos (example below).
A socio-cultural entertainment magazine has also been developed in each of the countries involved, in partnership with local artists. This content allows for a different approach to the issues related to the current crisis and offers a welcome breath of fresh air to listeners/populations overloaded with complex and often disturbing information.
Radio, web, social networks and mobile
Finally, this programme contributes to amplifying the dissemination of all the information produced locally by the editorial offices involved in the COVID crisis. This information is broadcast in local languages by partner radio networks to reach all audiences, even the most remote regions. The radio content is also available in attractive and educational formats (web articles, computer graphics, mini videos), and all of this content is made available to listeners and Internet users on the websites of each of our media and programme with specific banners that make it possible to find all the radio topics related to COVID. Social network broadcasting has been reinforced (Facebook and Whatsapp networks specific to each newsroom), which makes it possible to amplify broadcasting even more widely. A strategy of dissemination via mobile phone will also be completed in the coming weeks with a specialized partner.
Example of a video produced by the "editorial hub" for social networks, to defuse a rumour about an alleged anti-Covid vaccine: Exemple de vidéo produite par le "hub éditorial" pour les réseaux sociaux, pour désamorcer une rumeur sur un prétendu vaccin anti-Covid :