Covid-19 response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information

Free Press Unlimited, Article19, Reporters without Borders, Fondation Hirondelle, Deutsche Welle and International Media Support in collaboration with UNESCO, joined forces in a project to provide rapid response to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on access to reliable information in Africa.

Since the start of the pandemic, the harassment experienced by journalists in the Sub-Saharan countries has risen. This is seen in the arrests and detention of journalists, and government misuse of legislation to silence journalists and limit their freedom of expression and transparency.

Reportedly, by restricting the free movement and operation of journalists, the governments of Zimbabwe and Nigeria are withholding up to date, relevant, and independent information on COVID-19 from the public. Other countries suffer from poor information infrastructures where, despite good intentions, news from independent media, or even information from the government, does not reach high risk groups. This is true for Sudan, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, where remote areas and conflict zones are deprived of information on prevention and of advice on health.

Independent journalism is crucial

One of the key lessons learned during the recent Ebola epidemic was the crucial role of reliable, timely and independent information, and how important it is to safeguard media freedom in times of crisis. The project’s statement is therefore that, now more than ever, independent journalism, citizen reporting, open public discourse, and the free flow of information are crucial.

Covid-19 Response in Africa: together for reliable information, is a European Union-funded project that aims to help media outlets across 17 countries within Sub-Saharan Africa to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

Protect the right to freedom of expression and information

The consortium, led by Free Press Unlimited, is implementing this project as of 1 August 2020, the overall objective being to contribute to a better informed public and raise their awareness about how to protect themselves against COVID-19, and so limit the number of casualties.

A number of independent media outlets in Sub-Saharan countries are being encumbered by the pandemic. The project will support these media outlets so they can adapt and survive the crisis caused by COVID-19, and at the same time, protect freedom of expression and information during the crisis, by means of effective lobby and advocacy efforts.

The official launch of COVID-19 Response in Africa, was on the 28th of September, on the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI 2020), with a virtual round table Zoom conference.

For more information about the project