LOCAL RESILIENCY: Women in Burkina Faso step up to fill in the gaps to fight the COVID-19

Mariama Sawadogo sits in a small studio, translating notes from French to the local language of Moore and scribbling talking points in the margins. Transmission, prevention, vaccination — Sawadogo hits these topics in her bimonthly radio show on Zama FM, interviewing doctors and nurses about COVID-19 and testing callers on their knowledge.

Many guests and listeners in Burkina Faso call her “aunty” as she gently guides them to the right answers and awards prizes such as soap and washing buckets.

Sawadogo’s voice has become a familiar sound for nearly a million people in her town of Kaya and beyond, northeast of the capital in this West African country, where many feel the government has let them down during the pandemic. Hungry for any information about the virus, mothers huddle together outside to tune in to Sawadogo’s show, sharing rare mobile phones in slivers of shade while their children play nearby.

Tests, vaccines and public messaging often miss many of the country’s 20 million residents, despite a $200 million budget for virus response efforts. In a region where women are responsible for family work and community relationships, they’ve stepped up to provide a collective authoritative voice, make and deliver supplies, and find ways to support their families through the economic crisis.

Share on: