Fondation Hirondelle has been working since August 2020 with 6 other international organizations (Free Press Unlimited, Article 19, Reporters Without Borders, Deutsche Welle, International Media Support, and UNESCO) as part of the program "COVID-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information". The aim is to support independent media in 17 sub-Saharan African countries to enable them to provide relevant and reliable information to their audiences, faced with the effects of the pandemic. This 18-month project, coor dinated by Free Press Unlimited, is 95% financed by the European Union ('4.5 million).
The official launch of the project took place on September 28th on the International Day of Universal Access to Information (IDUAI 2020) with an online roundtable discussion. The overall objective of this rapid response to COVID-19 in Africa is to provide the essential, timely support and materials to independent media and journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa to fulfill their role of providing quality and reliable information and to help them overcome the risks they are facing during the crisis.
The project is divided between 3 main pillars:
1.Provide grants to journalists and media houses in Sub-Saharan Africa allowing them to continue production of quality public interest content to their audiences. It contains the following activities:
◦ Provide grants to media outlets in these 17 Sub-Saharan countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe,South Africa. In total
approximately 35 medias outlets will be supported in this activity. As part of this program, Fondation Hirondelle supports media and media networks in 4 countries: Senegal, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Benin.
◦ Provide emergency small grants on a rolling / need-to basis to African journalists and media organisations in the countries beyond the 17 targeted in this action. Over 50 media organizations and media practitioners will benefit from these smaller grants.
2.Share best practices among media practitioners and journalists in Africa, by the creation of a secure co-working space, relevant mentoring opportunities and fact-checking resources accessible to both grantees of the project and trusted journalists and media workers from other parts of Africa. The co-working space will also be the platform in where trainings on business models, Facts checking and audience engagement will be provided to the beneficiaries.
3.Provide effective lobby and advocacy to preserve the rights of Freedom of Expression and Information and access to Information at the national, regional, multilateral and global levels, grounded in sound research and monitoring of attacks against journalist, legal analysis and monitoring of policies that impact press freedom. The monitoring will lead to concrete policy recommendations pitched at the different levels.
Watch this video presentation of the program, produced by Free Press Unlimited, with the testimony of several African journalists beneficiaries and partners of the project, including Cédric Kalonji, editorial coordinator of the COVID-19 "hub" of Fondation Hirondelle in Africa and Aissatou Barry, a Guinean journalist trained by Fondation Hirondelle and coordinator of the Association of Science Journalists of that country :