COVID-19 Support

Supporting broadcasters and farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Support

Supporting broadcasters and farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic

The challenge

In times of crisis, rural African communities turn to radio as a trusted source of information. Sometimes, it is the only source. As the pandemic dawned, Farm Radio knew that broadcasters would be the key to delivering life-saving, accessible messages at scale to the vulnerable populations who needed them most. 

Unlike other mediums, radio is not restricted by lockdowns; it is one of few tools that can keep entire communities safe, entirely at-a-distance. 

But, as the pandemic spread farther and wider, it became clear that broadcasters were more in need of support than ever.

Our solution

Farm Radio re-directed its work to better serve broadcasters as they served their rural audiences, who faced their own unique challenges under the threat of COVID-19. We did this in five main ways: (1) supporting radio broadcasters with how-to guides and other resources; (2) developing a call in service for African journalists; (3) connecting broadcasters to share experiences; (4) getting support where it was needed most through a rapid COVID-19 support fund; and (5) adapting our current programming and projects to meet the needs of communities affected by COVID-19.




Radio stations reached with COVID-19 resources
Resource pack


COVID-19 resources produced


Messages between broadcasters and health experts

Gender equality

Farm Radio recognized that women’s access to information during outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic is severely constrained. In order to address this situation:

  • Many of the radio resources produced were specific to issues of gender equality, or otherwise reviewed by the Farm Radio gender equality and inclusion team. For example: such as the impact of the increased unpaid care work carried by women.
  • Radio stations selected as recipients of the COVID-19 support fund were selected partly on the basis of their programming for women
  • Many of the expert discussions via WhatsApp and Telegram focused the specific impacts of COVID-19 on women, mothers, and marginalized groups
  • The project supported women and men moderators of communities of practice at understanding issues of gender equality and how to support women broadcasters at taking their place in the dialogue.
  • The project included gender experts as part of the rapid response e-service for broadcasters when possible and provided data related to gender equality and COVID-19.
Government of Canada

This project is made possible through financial support of the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada.

Project snapshot

  • Duration: 12 months, 2020-2021
  • Budget: $499,766 CAD
  • Radio stations: 1,000+
  • Languages: Amharic, Ateso, Bambara, Chichewa, Dioula, English, French, Hausa, Swahili, Luganda, Luo, Malinké, Mooré, Nupe, Peulh / Pulaar, Soninké, Sonrhaï, Twi, Wolof, Yoruba
Junmai Emmanuel stands in her potato field

“We could not afford a hand sanitizer and my children were also at home because the schools were all closed, this also put a lot of pressure on the food at home. My family was desperate for information that could save our crops. Had it not been for the radio, I would still be groping in the dark.”

Junmai Emmanuel,
Farmer, northern Nigeria

Digging deeper into our results


Accurate, timely, and gender-responsive information

In response to the pandemic, Farm Radio International created 43 radio resources addressing urgent COVID-19 needs, including on topics such as fake news, gender-based violence, and FAQs on COVID-19.


Making experts accessible

Over five months, experts, along with Farm Radio staff, facilitated more than 116 of these discussions with our broadcasting partners in 13 online groups. More than 50,000 messages were shared in these groups.


Coaching broadcasters in local languages

In just five months, we made more than 17,000 calls to support 3,500 broadcasters in 12 countries. This work is a part of Farm Radio International’s network services, a renewed and ever-expanding part of the organization’s mandate.


Uliza Poll: Boosting the power of radio with ICTs

Assisted by the services of Viamo, Farm Radio International operated broadcaster hotlines in 12 countries. Radio broadcasters who called the hotlines heard recorded information about COVID-19, and were given the option to record their questions about the pandemic, which were then answered by local and international health experts.

The service saw 3,050 interactions in six months, with questions from broadcasters on prevention, transmission, recovery, and more.


COVID-19 Support Fund: Keeping essential services on the air

We supported more than 150 radio stations in 12 countries with more than $170,000 CAD of funding to help broadcasters stay on-air and support stations’ programming in response to COVID-19. Broadcasters purchased face masks and handwashing supplies, paid for fuel to keep their stations running, bought phone credit to do interviews at a distance, and invested in equipment to make their programs better than ever before.


“Since the announcement of the coronavirus in our country, radios are now selling like hotcakes because there is a need for information. The people of the villages have only the radio to inform themselves.”

Théophile Nébié,
Head of programs at Radio Loudon, in Sapouy, Burkina Faso