Our response to disinformation
Fondation Hirondelle continued to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in 2021 by supporting media in Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, DR Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Uganda) and Asia (Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan) to provide reliable information that responds to the concerns of their populations.
Multimedia content, sketches, features, questions and answers and infographics were produced and disseminated via radio, video, social networks, the web and telephony. The objective was to strengthen the resilience of the populations dealing with this crisis and to limit attempts to exploit information, which are frequent during epidemics, especially in countries where tensions and conflicts are permanent.
These programmes have been supported by Switzerland and the European Union through Devco and IcSP funding until the end of 2021. The programme funded by the United Kingdom (through the H2H Network fund) ended in early January 2021. The various projects have been subject to internal and external evaluations. The project with Chaîne du Bonheur (Swiss Solidarity) continues until July 2022.
3 089 816 CHF
Sources of funding
• European Union – Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP)
• Free Press Unlimited (European Union – Devco/INTPA)
• Chaîne du Bonheur
• United Kingdom (H2H Network fund)
Supporting local media in response to the coronavirus crisis
The results of the different projects dedicated to generating information in response to the COVID-19 crisis show that more than 6,500 items of media content (all formats combined) were produced in 5 to 20 languages per country and were broadcast via networks of partner radio stations, on FM, Internet, television, social networks and cell phones. More than 200 journalists have received training. Protection, production and broadcasting equipment has been given to partner media.
In terms of learning, the project confirmed that a broad approach to the media, i.e. the media ecosystem, was effective, especially in terms of combating misinformation. Our Covid-19 Editorial Hub, composed of senior journalists and a health specialist, provided support to newsrooms by fact-checking, producing content and providing tailored advice.
Newsrooms stepped up their activities on social networks and the Internet to counter false information. The partnership with the social enterprise Viamo made it possible to reach populations via cell phones in 8 countries (Burkina, Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Madagascar, Uganda, CAR, DRC), and to collect data on their concerns and perceptions.
I learned about Kalangou’s Covid messages from my students’ homework papers. The assignment was entitled: Covid-19 pandemic, myth or reality? Among the students who thought it a reality, several cited the Studio Kalangou sport broadcast by Garkuwa radio. And that’s when I realized how much credibility these students gave to these messages.
Issa Laouali, philosophy teacher at high school in Maradi.
The partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) and the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media (CASM) created a mapping of misinformation trends on Facebook.
The results of six audience surveys (Burkina, Mali, Niger, Madagascar, CAR and DRC) conducted by the independent polling institute Kantar, focus groups and WhatsApp surveys in several countries were used by journalists to develop local news content that is closer to the needs of listeners.
According to these surveys, the majority of listeners consider that the information produced by Fondation Hirondelle and its media partners is reliable, that it has already led them to change their behaviour, enabled them to better tell information from misinformation, and that it will be useful in the event of another health crisis.