BBC Media Action
I have a strong bond with my mother and we are often in contact. She lives in the city of Makeni, northern Sierra Leone and I live in the capital, Freetown, a two hour drive away.
When she called me in September, in tears, I knew something was very wrong. “My family is being wiped out,” she told me, barely able to get her words out. Since August - in just a matter of weeks - 16 of our family members living in the town of Port Loko had died. They lived very close to one other in a densely populated area.
There were rumours of witchcraft. People were saying a “witch plane” had crashed and this had led to the deaths. A “witch plane” is quite difficult to explain but people think it is basically a form of supernatural “flight” that only those involved in witchcraft can see. Many people, including my mother, believed this is why my family had died.
I was frightened and depressed by my mother’s phone call. For the past six months, I’ve been producing radio programmes to give people…
Director, Policy and Learning
BBC Media Action was awarded the President's Medal at the 2014 MRS Awards.
It was a proud moment for our research team when BBC Media Action was awarded the President’s Medal at the annual Market Research Society Awards this week. The medal is given to an individual or organisation that has made “an extraordinary contribution to research”. The society paid special tribute to the rigour of BBC Media Action’s research and to its innovative Climate Asia research portal.
These awards, the largest of their kind in Europe, are highly prestigious. I accepted the medal from the Market Research Society President, Dianne Thompson on behalf of the BBC Media Action and our Research and Learning team of up to 100 specialists conducting research, evaluation and insight activity in 37 countries across 42 languages in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
But why did we win? A mixture of reasons really.
Not many organisations can claim to have surveyed populations on the scale and in the environments that we do. We’ve conducted research in places from…
Research Manager, BBC Media Action
A girl attends class in Kibera, Kenya
Academics have been mulling over the tricky term "collective efficacy" for decades. Collective, what? Well, exactly. In its essence, collective efficacy is the belief that taking action with others can make a positive change. But I learned last week that if you want to really get to the bottom of what collective efficacy looks like in practice, Kenya is the place to find out.
Through our governance programming, we hope to make people feel more confident about coming together with others to make a difference. So I spent a week in Nairobi, conducting interviews with people from across the city to find out what this elusive concept looks like on the ground. And they told us a lot.
Sitting in the office in London before I left, we ummed and ahhed about what we thought collective efficacy meant and whether we could think of examples of when people in Britain had united to find solutions to local or national problems. And it’s safe to say that while we struggled a little, the…
Project Manager, Nigeria
Condom Awareness Day for the BBC Media Action Flava team
World Aids Day is a chance for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It is a chance to show solidarity with the 35 million people living with HIV today and commemorate those who have died from AIDS.
For me, December 1st will be even more poignant as this will be the last World AIDS Day of ENR (Enhancing Nigeria’s response to HIV & AIDS), a project I’ve been…
Head of Research for BBC Media Action, Nigeria
I could never have predicted a conversation overheard in my cab to work would have such an impact on me. But as we drew to a halt in one of Abuja’s frequent traffic jams, I heard my driver make a call that got me thinking about the increasing power of media in Nigeria – and people’s confidence in it to make a difference.
My driver had taken the opportunity to pick up his mobile and complain to a friend about a wrong that had been done to him. But it wasn’t his complaints about the offending party that made me sit up. It was his comment that if the issue wasn’t resolved,…
Olabisi Olu Garrick
As a radio presenter here in Sierra Leone, I'm certainly not used to being asked for my own views live on air. It’s normally me who asks all the tough questions. So imagine my surprise when I was asked to make a "pledge" regarding the Ebola crisis just as we were coming to the end of a lively two hour Ebola special programme in Freetown. For those who don’t know, a pledge means…
Executive Director, BBC Media Action
On first sight, Freetown seems little changed from my last visit four years ago - the same rich colours, smiling faces and warm welcomes.
And there are signs of continued recovery from the war and increased prosperity from rapid economic growth - 10% last year - to be seen in newly tarmacked roads, refurbished shops and new buildings.
Taking a second look, I realise that there aren't many children. Last time they were everywhere- crowding around the car, making their way to school or playing by the side of the road. All schools have been closed since the start of the academic year as…
Head of ICT in India for BBC Media Action
A community health workers uses Mobile Kunji in Bihar, India.
I’m exhausted, on the verge of illness and other members of BBC Media Action’s India office are also very, very tired – but – we’re all excited!
Why? Because in the last month, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India has delivered maternal and child health mobile phone content developed by BBC Media Action to more than 260,000 families.
The Ministry, in close…
Executive Director, BBC Media Action
When I told them that I was planning a brief visit to Sierra Leone, reactions from family and friends ranged from “You can’t!” to hailing me a hero. In reality my visit entailed nothing at all dangerous – time in the office with our team of international and Sierra Leonean staff, visits to government offices and local radio stations, and a stay in a comfortable Freetown hotel. Yet our fear of this terrible disease makes it difficult for even an informed audience to judge what the risk actually is.
Ebola virus disease (“Ebola”) is only transmitted through direct contact…
Director of Communications and Fundraising, BBC Media Action
Mariama Khai Fornah training radio producers in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone
Our work to tackle the Ebola crisis reminds us that we all have a part to play
I played the public service announcement (PSA) to a room full of BBC colleagues in Bristol. It was the voice of my colleague Mariama Sesay, based in Freetown. She was speaking in Krio, a language based on English that we could partly understand. But one thing was instantly recognisable – and that was her…