Since the first recorded case of coronavirus in Burkina Faso in March 2020, radio broadcasting by Studio Yafa has provided information and fact-checking about the pandemic. In particular, dedicated programming has targeted vulnerable populations of displaced people through a partnership with the UNCHR broadcasting in national languages - Mooré, Fulfuldé and Dioula – as well as in French.
Thankfully, the number of coronavirus cases in Burkina Faso remain relatively low as is the case elsewhere in the Sahel and, indeed, the rest of the African continent. Radio broadcasting is the dominant mass-medium in Burkina Faso and has played an important role in raising awareness about the pandemic.
To evaluate the role of radio, we have been undertaking an ongoing content analysis of Studio Yafa's Covid-19 broadcasts help us to understand the information provided for internally displaced populations. This work is still taking place, but here are some initial reflections and findings.
Diverse approaches to radio
We have found that Studio Yafa are able to produce radio broadcasts on coronavirus through diverse partnerships that tackle the issue from different angles.
‘Parlons Coronavirus’ is a programme in partnership with the UNCHR designed to raise awareness about coronavirus among people who have been displaced in Burkina Faso by conflict. Between 7 and 9 minutes long, these programmes broadcast 5 times a week and feature a variety of segments: ‘Covid info’, testimonials by internally displaced people, interviews with the public health expert Dr Moumini Niaoné, and finally a sketch with ‘the friends’ Momo and Nafou (in French), Aïcha et Wendouki (in Fulfuldé) and Mamadou et Ramata (in Mooré).
‘Fact Checking’ is a 4-6-minute weekly programme broadcast on Fridays. For this programme, Studio Yafa work in partnership with ‘Faso Check’, a fact checking platform in Burkina Faso, to discuss rumours, misinformation, or simply clarify information about the pandemic. This broadcast also concludes with a sketch from Momo and Nafou on the dangers of ‘fake news’. This sketch is the same every week, which helps to reinforce the message about misinformation and fake news.
Every Sunday, ‘Covid Reem’ presents a different artist and musician from Burkina Faso. The musicians discuss their experiences of the pandemic and how cultural expression can be used to raise awareness of the disease. After a brief performance, the musician also introduces a different Momo and Nafou sketch every week.
Focusing on the needs and experiences of PDIs
In Burkina Faso, large numbers of displaced people are facing unique challenges and inequalities that have been exacerbated by Covid-19. While radio broadcasts about coronavirus are relevant to everyone, internally displace people in Burkina Faso face a unique set of challenges; forced displacement, lack or resources, food insecurity, and social isolation. All these categories have been exacerbated by the recent coronavirus outbreak.
It is therefore important that PDIs hear their own voices and experiences on the radio. We have found that these broadcasts discuss the material limitations facing IDP, namely lack of cooking materials (so that people rely on sharing resources) and the lack of clean water and soap (making hygiene difficult). The programmes give advice on how to avoid the transmission of any disease in this context.
‘Spread the message in good spirits’ – Dr Moumini Niaoné
We have found that Studio Yafa have prioritised positive messages of social solidarity and leadership among internally displaced people in their broadcasting. Every week, the radio broadcasts identify, interview, and celebrate a member of the IDP community for being a role model in the fight against coronavirus. Positive representations aim to promote an environment in which IDPs are empowered through information about coronavirus.
As in the case of the ‘Covid Reem’ broadcast with respected musician and artists from Burkina Faso, the sketches also employ an ‘edutainment’ approach to raising awareness about the pandemic.
Overall, this content analysis shows that raising awareness through the radio aims to reinforce social cohesion and public solidarity in the fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus among vulnerable populations.