Our work on COVID-19: A glimpse so far

broadcaster in mask

It’s now been four months since Farm Radio International has started work on COVID-19 response and recovery. 

As part of our Scaling Her Voice on Air project, the Government of Canada provided additional funding to Farm Radio to expand our support to broadcasters so they are better able to support their communities during the current pandemic. Additionally, thank you to the many individual Canadians who have donated to support this work. 

For background on what we’re doing in response to COVID-19, learn more here

Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far: 

Broadcaster Resources

4 how-to guides
2 informational backgrounders
4 news stories
4 languages

Broadcasters play a critical role during a crisis. Ensuring they have the right support, resources and information is key, so that the communities they serve get the same.

Reaching more than 1,000 radio partners in 41 countries and in at least four different languages, our team got to work designing resources for radio stations and broadcasters to help them as they deliver COVID-19 programming to hundreds of thousands of listeners in rural communities.

Here’s a taste of some of the work we’ve done:

Emergency hotline and chatbot

1,131 phone calls
56 questions asked

Farm Radio International’s Digital Innovation team has developed both a call-in service and a social media chat bot to provide a comprehensive overview of frequently asked questions, myths and misinformation, and tips for broadcasters to stay safe. 

In ten African countries, broadcasters can call the line and leave questions which are then responded to by health and subject experts. Across the continent, the chatbot is available for use on Facebook Messenger and Telegram, enabling our partners everywhere to have access to the same information. 

Learn more about how we developed the hotline, and what it sounds like, here.

Connecting broadcasters

17,765+ messages shared since April
1,532 broadcasters
50 social media discussions
19 experts

Farm Radio runs social media groups to connect broadcasters so they can share what is working — and what is not — with their peers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, these groups have been more active than ever!

Thanks to our staff we’ve facilitated 50 social media discussions so far across the ten countries where we work. Discussions have lasted five days each, and addressed topics such as how broadcasters have adapted their work in the face of COVID-19; how they’re addressing myths and fake news, and how broadcasters themselves can support farmers during the pandemic.

We’ve also moderated 19 five-day discussions with health, gender and nutrition specialists, allowing broadcasters to ask questions freely to inform their COVID-19 programming.

At the same time, we’ve been working with 28 local networkers to reach out to marginalized radio stations to discuss the types of barriers being faced as a result of COVID-19, the type of work stations are doing in response, and to get their feedback about our own work to support them.

That way, we can ensure that as this pandemic continues, our work continues to serve broadcasters, and through them, rural people.

COVID-19 Support Fund

383 radio station applicants
12 countries

As important ad revenue dwindles, or radio broadcasters in underserved or marginalized communities face bigger hurdles in keeping their stations on air, broadcasters are facing more challenges in ensuring they serve the needs of their listening audiences. Farm Radio International launched a COVID-19 support fund to aid these broadcasters. The fund can cover fuel for generators, protective equipment, internet and phone costs for remote work, or other relevant needs.

Broadcasters in twelve countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda) have been able to apply for the funding.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we begin to announce stations receiving this funding. 

COVID recovery

Adapting to and protecting people from COVID-19 is just the start of the process. It’s becoming clear that this pandemic will not end abruptly.

As we look towards the fall, we’re turning our work towards how we can support rural communities in recovery from the effects of the pandemic, whether that’s through addressing access to markets, growing healthy food, working with governments to promote remote schooling, or in working with communities to prevent increased rates of gender-based violence.

We know that radio has a role to play in all of this. It’s something we will be hard at work at, even as we continue to promote health and safety under COVID-19. 

The Scaling Her Voice on Air project aims to bring improved interactive radio services to Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal, reaching more than 7 million small-scale farmers to improve food security and gender equality. The Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, is supporting the project with a grant of $5 million over the five years of the project. With additional funding from Canada, Farm Radio International will support broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa who provide essential pandemic-related information to remote and rural communities.

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