Keeping crucial radio stations on air in face of COVID-19

Gregoire Zongo of Radio Salaki in Burkina Faso tests out their new method of doing interviews, using a selfie stick to hold their microphone. Photo courtesy of Radio Salaki.

With additional funding from Canada, Farm Radio International will support broadcasters who provide essential pandemic-related information to remote and rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

COVID-19 has resulted in dramatic changes around the world. Everyone, everywhere needs to know how it affects them locally, how to protect themselves, and how to avoid spreading infection. Radio plays a natural and critical role, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the most accessible, and in some places the only, source of reliable information for hundreds of millions of people. Radio broadcasters need accurate gender-responsive information, links to reliable advisory services, resources to understand the health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic on women, fact-checking opportunities, tips and guidelines for producing good programs, and support to stay healthy and stay on the air.

As part of an extension to the Scaling Her Voice on Air project, Canada will provide additional funding to support broadcasters and listeners through Farm Radio International for COVID-19 related communication activities.

“Broadcasters need to be able to separate fact from fiction, and debunk myths when they surface,” says Kevin Perkins, Executive Director of Farm Radio International. “They need to help their listeners stay calm and avoid panic. And, most importantly, they must stay on the air – not easy to do when COVID-19 lockdowns make travel and assembly difficult, or when a shortage of fuel turns off their transmitters. And they need to do so safely, with their own health in mind. This funding will allow us to support broadcasters in being on the air and staying effective, while ultimately helping some of the most vulnerable communities in Africa.”

Broadcaster support initiatives

  1. Developing resources: Farm Radio will develop and share a range of timely, evidence-based information and ‘how to’ guides, written in plain, easy-to-translate language, that will be distributed to our 1,000 broadcasting partners in 41 countries and four different languages. The information will not only cover health facts about COVID-19, but also how to stay safe while keeping  programming on air and how the crisis affects women.
  2. Facilitating connections: By creating and strengthening online communities of practice, Farm Radio will facilitate opportunities for broadcasters from ten countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda) to connect with each other and share their experiences. Farm Radio will also intensify its networking with partner radio stations in order to link them to various resources, making sure radio stations with limited resources or in remote areas can access support. 
  3. Launching a hotline: Developed by our digital innovation team, broadcasters from those ten countries will have access to a rapid response call-in service and chat bot that will allow broadcasters access to FAQs, for fact-checking information and asking questions to health and gender experts in real time. 
  4. Creating the Rapid Emergency Support Fund: Radio stations from the same ten countries will be able to apply to an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses they are facing in carrying out their COVID-19-related activities, so that they can continue to keep their programs on the air.


To learn more about the Scaling Her Voice on Air project or our COVID-19 work, please contact: Caroline Montpetit, Regional Program Manager, West Africa, and Gender Equality Advisor at

About​ ​Farm​ ​Radio​ ​International

Farm Radio International is a Canadian non-governmental organization focused on improving the lives of rural Africans using radio in combination with other ICTs. We have offices and staff in nine African countries, where we run targeted radio projects to improve the lives of rural listeners with programming about health, nutrition, agriculture and climate change, and we support broadcasters across the continent with resources to help them improve their radio programming. With more than 1,000 radio partners across 41 sub-Saharan African countries, Farm Radio International currently reaches tens of millions of small-scale farmers with life-changing information and opportunities to have a stronger voice in their own development.

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