The 2020-21 fiscal year coincided with the emergence and mounting global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and public health measures changed the way we did our work — mostly from home offices, on the cloud or online, in Africa and in Canada. We developed and brought remote-led, distance approaches to nearly all our activities — from training to audience research; from radio program development to evaluation.
But COVID did not change the work that we do, or dampen the need for it — on the contrary, driven by the urgency of the pandemic, it was probably our busiest year to date. The need and demand for information, advice, and human connection was greater than ever, but there was really only one viable way to provide it safely in rural Africa: radio plus mobile phones. As a result, we formed new partnerships with organizations who needed to find new ways of continuing — or even accelerating — their development initiatives at a time when travel and person-to-person contact was not an option.
Our supporters across Canada understood perfectly the value of radio during these times of COVID-19, and responded generously. Their donations allowed us to fundraise more than ever, meaning we could provide a more timely and robust response to the pandemic and other priorities. If you are among them: thank you!
While we continued critical programs about farming, food security, nutrition, climate change adaptation, health and women’s rights, we infused all of them with vital information about COVID-19 prevention, care, and response. Misinformation and fake news spread faster than the virus — and our radio partners needed to bring accurate and trustworthy information to their listeners. But that was only possible if broadcasters themselves could sort out the difference between fact and fiction and bring their listeners balanced and accurate updates.
The events of the year affirmed and reminded us that communication is a basic human right — especially in times of crisis. We saw again that good communication services – whether they provide information, facilitate human connection, or allow people to express themselves – are not equitably available to all. The large majority of small-scale farming women and men in Africa are likely to have only one source of information — radio. In partnership with our network of over 1,000 African radio stations, we are proud to do our small part to make this vital communication channel as powerful as it can be.
Our work in 2020-21:
- 20 million listeners
- 3.9 million listeners improved their practices
- 1,083 radio stations supported with resources
- 446 broadcasters trained
- 36 countries