A face mask as an indication this project focuses on covid-19

Location COVID-19



Burkina Faso was the first African country to record a COVID-19 death following the virus outbreak in Sub-Saharan Africa in early 2020. DMI set out to support the government’s pandemic response by launching a national mass media campaign, sharing information about the virus and promoting key COVID-19 related behaviours. We were able to get on air across the country very quickly due to our strong relationships with the Burkinabé Government and our large network of media broadcasters.


Burkina Faso


COVID-19 – information about virus symptoms and spread, promoting physical distancing, shielding of the vulnerable, mask use, and hand and respiratory hygiene.


24 x 1-3 minute radio spots produced in 10 local languages, longer drama segments as part of live interactive radio shows, and a 1-minute animation produced in four languages.


Our radio campaign ran on 39 community radio stations from April to December 2020. The animation was broadcast on national television and posted on the Ministry of Health’s Facebook pages.

Estimated Reach

11.3 million people

Project at a glance

Partner radio stations
Facebook views

Our Approach


Using remote research methods

We were unable to conduct face-to-face field research as we usually would, to get input into behaviours, concepts and scripts from the target audience. So we developed remote research techniques to conduct our formative research. We contacted five partner radio stations who gave us telephone numbers of people who we could survey about their understanding and impressions of COVID-19. We uncovered misconceptions about the disease and identified barriers and facilitators to adopting COVID-19 prevention measures, such as hand washing and physical distancing. We consulted with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the African Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) to inform our messaging strategy and ensure it was in line with international guidelines.


Effective, accurate risk communications

Our team of scriptwriters in Burkina Faso used findings from our formative research to produce 24 x 1-3 minute radio spots throughout the campaign.
We used drama and humour to make our spots engaging, and broadcast on topics such as: what is COVID-19, how you get it and protect yourself against it, hand and respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, shielding of vulnerable people and mask use.

We sent our audience the radio spots by WhatsApp and asked them for their views to check the radio spots were understandable and relevant to the listeners and to ascertain how easy people would find it to implement the recommended behaviours. We also worked with our radio station partners to produce long format segments which would be integrated into interactive phone-in radio shows during which the audience could discuss and actively address myths and break down stigma surrounding COVID-19.


39 radio stations, 1 TV station, Government social media channels

Our radio spots were broadcast 10 times a day for six months on 39 popular community radio stations in Burkina Faso, reaching national coverage. The interactive radio shows were broadcast on 17 of these radio stations. We also broadcast a physical distancing animation we adapted for use in all our countries on national television and on social media via the Ministry of Health’s Facebook page. In Burkina Faso, we produced this animation in French and three local languages – Mooré, Dioula and Fulfuldé.


Project impact

Our Impact

Results of Phone survey and social media analyses

We worked with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to conduct a mobile phone survey with previous survey participants of our family planning RCT, to evaluate the impact of our radio messaging on knowledge, attitudes and practices around COVID-19 and its effect on people’s lives. Preliminary results of this survey found that 81% of women cited radio as their primary source of information about COVID-19, followed by friends or acquaintances at 6% and health facility staff at just 3%.

Our social distancing animation was positively received and viewed over 6 million times on the Ministry of Health’s Facebook page (as of July 2020). We conducted a thematic analysis of 1577 Facebook comments left on the animation to gain further insight into people’s perceptions of the virus and attitudes to social distancing in Burkina Faso.

Partners & Funders

We worked closely with Innovations for Poverty Action to conduct the phone survey for this campaign. We are grateful to the Skoll Foundation, the Mulago Foundation and an anonymous philanthropist for funding this campaign.

Innovations for Poverty Action logo Skoll foundation logo The Mulago Foundation logo
A still from a DMI animation encouraging people to wear face masks funded by the RRF

What Next

Remaining Ready to Act

As new, more infective strains of COVID-19 emerge, we plan to continue our COVID-19 campaigning where needed. We are also seeking funds to tackle its secondary effects. WHO has stressed that campaigning on treatment-seeking to increase the demand for essential health services where they are available remains a priority. And where these services are not available, mass media can be used to promote healthy behaviours in the home.