In 2014 Equal Access programming featured more than 10,000 conversations between local citizens and Community Reporters on peace, development, and youth empowerment.
A landlocked nation in West Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries on the continent, ranking 183 out of 186 countries on UNDP’s Human Development Index (2013). 44.6% of the population lives below the poverty level, leaving Burkinabe particularly vulnerable to economic shocks such as the effects of climate change on agricultural production, which remains the nation’s most important industry. Moreover, Burkina Faso suffers from an under-developed industrial sector that offers youth very limited opportunities for employment. Lack of access to land and capital make self-employment challenging, leaving youth disillusioned with few opportunities to build a prosperous future. These factors also leave Burkina Faso vulnerable to destabilizing political forces, such as the influx of over 47,000 refugees from conflict in neighboring Mali, and the propagation of violent protests such as those seen nationwide in 2011.
In 2012, Equal Access began working in Burkina Faso as the media partner in the USAID-funded Peace through Development (PDEV) II project. Through an entertaining youth radio program on empowerment and livelihoods, Equal Access is increasing access to quality, credible information for a key demographic in Burkina Faso (46.6% of the population is under age 15, and 74% is under 30). With broadcast in local languages of Mooré and Fulfuldé, our radio programs are coupled with direct community engagement activities to ensure that the messaging in our programs transforms into positive behavior change at the grassroots level.
Equal Access’ outreach activities equip Burkinabè youth with the life skills they need to make smart, informed decisions, fostering a resilience in youth and deterring youth from turning towards violent extremism. Beyond radio programming, we employ listening clubs, public campaigns, community-level youth projects, and SMS and IVR interaction to maximize the impact of our messaging. In addition, Equal Access is committed to building the capacity of local radio station partners to produce over 250 hours of high quality, local language programming. With material and equipment support, and training ranging from technical radio production to station management and income generation, Equal Access is committed to building a sustainable and thriving media sector in Burkina Faso.