Our team in Sierra Leone has been selected to be an Internews local media partner and for emergency funding through its Rapid Response Fund, launched to support community media during the COVID-19 crisis. We were chosen out of hundreds of media outlets applying from more than 80 countries.
The emergency funds have already been put to excellent use supporting our journalists as they provide essential information on the status of the virus in the rural communities we have been working with, including changes in policy and community norms, and – importantly – services for women and girls. They continue to work closely with government ministries, community service organizations, and local Chiefs in their production and distribution activities.
We have learned over time that a consistent flow of valued information on issues of importance is key to building trust. Our journalists record interviews with officials and experts, prepare podcasts that covers the topic of interest in an engaging and entertaining format, and deliver them to their community/region. During COVID-19 our podcasts are distributed through four methods to reach the widest audience possible:
· Virally through peer-to-peer Bluetooth transfers,
· Over radio broadcasts on nationwide and community radio stations,
· At our Listening Centres (when public gatherings are allowed),
· By outlying community visits by our Youth Advocates,
· Via Town Criers used by many communities in Africa,
· On social media through key WhatsApp and Facebook groups ( urban than rural reach).
The goal of our Covid-19 activities are to:
· Provide listeners with timely, critical information on how to stay safe from Covid-19.
· Support free-lance female journalists and the professional women’s journalist organization they belong to.
· Change the way marginalized women and girls receive, share, and use information.
· Increase awareness of services available to women and girls and why it is important to use them..
· Raise the standard of journalism in the regions we serve.