Offering young people in the Sahel region a new arena for expression
For several years, the Sahel region has been experiencing a series of multiform crises, which overlay and abet each other. This instability will not be resolved unless we achieve better socio-political inclusion for young people. The media have a role to play in this.
MediaSahel: January 2019 – December 2022 / €8.3 million MediaSahel For Women: January 2022 – December 2023 / €1.7 million
This last year of implementation of MediaSahel activities saw the launch of MediaSahel For Women, the gender-focussed section of the project. In 2022, CFI activities were suspended in Mali, further to a decree issued by the transition government in Bamako prohibiting French funding.
From March to June 2022, 108 journalists and technical staff from 36 partner radio stations benefitted from one last training course in hosting and directing public debate shows.
These workshops, and the ensuing on-site support, helped radio stations upskill regarding this type of format and design shows focussing on the preoccupations of local young people. Mohamed Ag Issafeytane, journalist at Radio Ménaka, benefitted in several ways: “I realised that the public are players in their own right. The choice of subject with a pertinent angle, factoring in the public interest, is now a given.” This long-term approach has helped to build up newsroom skills and encouraged the participation of young people in public debate.
« Our staff have been participating in MediaSahel training since 2020. These capacity-building courses have helped to raise their game, and it shows in our daily output. » Hélène Sebogo, Director of RTB Boucle du Mouhoun
Supporting the production of interactive, innovative content
In July 2022, MediaSahel launched its initiative to support the production of interactive programmes in local languages about and for young people and women, and/or sensitive to gender issues and conflict. 63 partner radio stations received financial and educational support for six months to produce content. Looking beyond contributions by local trainers, Hélène Sebogo, Director of RTB Boucle du Mouhoun appreciated the financial support: “Our programme can air regularly now”. This envelope worth 100,000 CFA francs a month is granted to each radio station to cover fuel and communication expenses for the production team, as well as production costs and any travelling expenses for the young people.
The beneficiaries especially appreciated the complementarity between the capacity building and production support, as pointed out by Lamissa T., Director of the radio station RTB2 Kaya: “These training courses have helped to improve the quality of our output and managerial practices. The equipment we received will be extremely useful for radio broadcasting and improving programme quality.” This initiative has helped to produce 709 programmes. The 71 radio stations taking part have additionally received sets of smaller equipment for radio and IT.
Gender equality woven into MediaSahel
2022 was also the year when MediaSahel For Women was launched, thanks to additional funding from the French development agency (AFD). The aim is to foster the development of top-quality journalism that is sensitive to gender equality, and that offers an arena for expression for all, especially with respect to issues such as stability, peace and social cohesion, tied in with OSCs focussing on these themes.
Capacity building started in late 2022, with training for 14 trainers in Ouagadougou. During this course, participants identified the factors hindering better onboarding of gender issues in newsrooms and thus outlined the content for future interventions on site. 48 media outlet directors also attended a workshop on gender-sensitive management, both in newsroom setups (taking women into account, pushing back on stereotypes and prejudice) and in editorial terms (gender-sensitive journalism, working more with female contributors).