UNDP joins local radio shows to bring COVID-19 advice to the airwaves

UNDP Somalia
Aug 13 · 4 min read

With a carefully selected panel of experts, UNDP and local stations run talk shows on staying safe and how Somalia is responding to the pandemic

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UNDP has been working with radio stations across Somalia to set up talk shows bringing together some of the country’s leading experts on public health, medicine and religion. Together, they are helping people know what COVID-19 is, how it spreads and how to keep themselves and their families safe.

Fewer than 3,500 people have been confirmed to have the disease in Somalia, but very limited testing means that numbers are likely to be far higher. At the same time, cases are rising fast in countries across Africa, including Somalia’s neighbours, threatening a second wave and making it vital to remain vigilant.

As well as essential facts on treatment and prevention, the new radio programmes tackle issues of stigma around the new disease. This can make people reluctant to seek treatment, self-isolate or wear a mask because they are afraid of being rejected or laughed at. Local NGOs have reported patients running away from home after a positive diagnosis and the IOM has noted cases where people are shunned if they wear a mask.

The talk shows also explore how Islam supports various ways to help stop the spread of the virus, from quarantine to covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze. There are also discussions of how to pray safely and meet the Islamic injunction to protect yourself and others from harm.

Other topics include updates on the COVID-19 situation nationwide, what the government is doing to respond and the challenges Somalia still faces in dealing with the pandemic.

Panelists for the shows include:

· Sheikh Abdul Hayyi, a lecturer at Mogadishu University and Imam of Omar Binu Khadab mosque

· Dr. Mahad Mohamed Hassan, lecturer on nutrition at Benadir University, and a member of Somalia’s National COVID-19 Task Force

· Dr. Abdirizak Yusuf Ahmed, Director General of Martini Hospital and National COVID-19 Incident Manager for the Ministry of Health

Partner radio stations so far include Radio Danan and the Banadir Radio Administration (BRA). You can hear those shows here and here. A further talk show has been broadcasted across 10 radio stations in collaboration with UNSOM’s Paths to Peace weekly programme.

In a country with limited internet connectivity (averaging 24% across the country), radio remains the most effective and economical way to reach large numbers of people with public awareness campaigns.

In addition to the new series of talk shows, UNDP has also engaged, KALA-MAAN, one of the most popular radio programmes in Somalia, to encourage mask-wearing.

The Kala-Maan radio drama uses local voices and accents and poetic dialogue to make subjects more interesting.

In a fast-paced and poetic dialogue, KALA-MAAN’s new four-minute drama explores why people don’t like facemasks and encourages them to follow advice from the government and health authorities.

In a fast-paced and poetic dialogue, KALA-MAAN’s new four-minute drama explores why people don’t like facemasks and encourages them to follow advice from the government and health authorities.

In a fast-paced and poetic dialogue, KALA-MAAN’s new four-minute drama explores why people don’t like facemasks and encourages them to follow advice from the government and health authorities.

“KALA-MAAN is our most popular talk show and we have famous comedians, actors and poets in the team,” said Burhaan Diini Farah, the Director of Radio Kulmiye.

“They speak all the different Somali accents and they understand the cultural nuances of every region so everyone relates to them. They are known for giving out serious messages in a very entertaining and funny way.”

For the latest WHO advice on when and how to wear masks see here.

For information in Somali check out the UNDP/Office of the Prime Minister COVID-19 website: https://kahortagakorona.gov.so/

For more on what UNDP has done to fight COVID with communications: https://medium.com/@UNDPSom/viral-communications-help-slow-the-virus-in-somalia-ffc60a03940f

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