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A Studio Yafa journalist interviews a trainee seamstress in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, January 2021. ©Olympia de Maismont / Fondation Hirondelle. A Studio Yafa journalist interviews a trainee seamstress in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, January 2021.
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Discover our actions, key figures and testimonials about our projects in our 2020 Annual Report. Excerpts below. Read or download the full report by clicking on the link above.



The Covid pandemic in 2020 has highlighted the importance of credible, objective information in all countries. Fighting misinformation had to be done with strength and conviction.

Fondation Hirondelle was able to react with agility and dynamism to the challenges in all countries where it was already active. It developed new programmes in other countries considered as priorities. The Fondation's donors have recognized the importance of credible information to curb the pandemic, and the urgency of fighting against "fake news". They have trusted Fondation Hirondelle to do this and to reach the populations of all these countries, even in the most remote regions, with simple, clear, convincing messages.
Without our donors, but also without the outstanding commitment of the Fondation's employees and media partners, such operations with measurable impact would not have been possible. My thanks go to all those who made this exceptional mobilization possible.

Tony Burgener
Chairman of the Fondation Hirondelle Board



2020 was going to be a special and festive year for Fondation Hirondelle as we celebrated our 25th anniversary. We had planned a whole programme of activities to reflect the role of information in crisis zones and our experience since 1995. This year was certainly special, but for reasons we had not anticipated. Our field missions were interrupted in March due to lockdowns and flight cancellations related to the Covid-19 crisis, but our activity did not stop -- far from it.
Our editorial offices and media partners in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia covered the pandemic from the very first days, trying to explain it and understand its local consequences. Fondation Hirondelle's headquarters in Lausanne mobilized to support our teams in the field, develop appropriate responses and respond to partners asking us to expand our production of news and information in the face of this new crisis.
We had to be reactive, adapt in a hurry, learn to work from home, but our whole team was committed. We felt we were at the heart of our mission: informing in the face of fear, fighting against misinformation and rumours, enabling debate on vital issues like health, and global issues such as the economic and social consequences of the pandemic. This commitment has been perpetuated for more than 25 years within Fondation Hirondelle, and drives us more than ever in 2021.

Caroline Vuillemin
General Director, Fondation Hirondelle




The overall objective of our 2017-2020 strategic programme was "to help implement the right to information by giving the populations in the places we work access to quality media whose content is useful, non-partisan and independent, thus enabling each individual to make informed choices in his or her life, and to participate in the civic and democratic life of his or her country".
Our good results in content production and broadcast (activity fields 1 and 2 of the programme), as measured in a November 2020 audience survey in six countries, attest  to this: in the age of "fake news", the production and broadcast of reliable information remain crucial in the fragile contexts where we work.
Implementation of activity field 3 "Sustainability" confronted us with several challenges. In particular, the insufficient increase in the equity of both our foundation and our media remains a problem.
Activity field 4 "Research" has generally contributed to a better recognition of the importance of the media sector. Collaboration with academic circles has led to the production of 8 publications.


The year 2020 was exceptional in several respects: the coronavirus crisis, teams in confinement, strong growth in activity and finances, and the 25-year anniversary of Fondation Hirondelle, all of which was carried by our teams in the field and in Lausanne, who remained healthy and committed.
The means and capacities dedicated to production and broadcast of content have increased considerably with additional services linked to Covid in the countries where we were already working, mainly through expanded broadcast via mobile telephony and the services of the company Viamo. The editorial staff of Hirondelle media covered the health crisis from the spring onwards, everyone was mobilized. The signing of new contracts for the Covid program then allowed the Fondation to expand its activities to 18 countries with direct support for production, the fight against misinformation and content distribution to partner media in Africa and Asia.

In 2020 four of the countries where we work held elections with major consequences: Myanmar, Burkina Faso, Niger and the CAR. There was a coup d’Etat in Mali in August. These events were at the heart of our editorial work, which was measured by an audience survey in six countries in November 2020. Promoting media literacy was also one of our concerns in 2020, as a way to fight misinformation. To this end, we have published on our website the series of Journalism Masterclasses produced since 2019.

The Fondation Hirondelle Board has been particularly supportive throughout the year and has added two new members. It validated a new gender policy, setting out our principles and ambitions in terms of equal rights and opportunities for men and women working at Fondation Hirondelle, and our editorial positioning in this area. It also validated an update of our Charter, recalling our values, our founding principles, our references and our commitment.

Innovative qualitative studies with new partners such as Viamo, CASM (the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media), Nadel (Centre for Development and Cooperation of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) and the University of Michigan were conducted in 2020 and, once the results are analysed in 2021, will complement our quantitative audience analyses.

The contexts in which we work remain very fragile, and are made more so by several factors: the misinformation that has spread around Covid-19; insecurity; and a major economic crisis that is looming due to the global economic recession. It is within this framework, where quality and trustworthy information is paramount, that we are starting a new strategic programme for the period 2021-2024, institutionally and financially supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), with whom we signed a new partnership contract in early 2021.