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Case study: Strengthening Journalists’ Capacity to Fact-check and Communicate Health Sciences in Africa

Currently, as the world battles to bring Covid-19 under control, more and more people are seeking information around the virus. However, there exists major information gaps in communicating about the pandemic in Africa. The World Health Organisation says the outbreak has been accompanied by “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it”.

This leaves us with two questions:

  1. How can we build the knowledge, skills and confidence of journalists, social media influencers and members of civil society organisations to help contribute to accurate information across the continent? 
  2. What can be done to support citizens in making important decisions, especially during elections and strengthen their resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic?

To find answers to these questions, we offered a course on health media reporting and supported HaqCheck, a local fact-checking organisation in Ethiopia with capacity building. All these activities formed part of UNESCO’s project “#CoronavirusFacts, Addressing the ‘Disinfodemic’ on COVID-19” funded by the European Union, and with funding from UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists.

Online course on health media reporting 

“This is definitely a boost for the African Journalist, on how to disseminate factual and balanced stories.” (Participant)

Africa Check offered a course consisting of six sessions over a period of two months in collaboration with the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) AfriCenter. The sessions guided participants on how to enhance their knowledge, skills and confidence to report on health-related topics and safely cover the Covid-19 pandemic and NCDs. 

Support for HaqCheck in Ethiopia 

“The sessions with Africa Check are helping us in a lot of ways, mainly in building our capacity, becoming standardized, and working in an organized manner. It also widens our perspective to achieve our goals and visions.” (Lead fact-checker at HaqCheck)

TRi Facts was supporting HaqCheck via a range of collaborative learning and coaching sessions. HaqCheck is a pioneering fact-checking initiative in Ethiopia. Emerged to counter disinformation in the country and the horn, HaqCheck is working in English and four local languages (Amharic, Afan Oromo, Tigrinya and Somali).

Together, we brainstormed a social media strategy for HaqCheck that speaks to the specific needs of their target audience. We also shared knowledge on how to sustainably build a reputation of trust and accuracy , and on how to find the most important claims to fact-check. One of our mentors was supporting the team through regular sessions that focus on how to implement the newly gained knowledge and utilise the tools in their day-to-day work. 

The projects offered a great platform for everyone involved to identify innovative and impactful approaches to strengthen fact-checking and build their capacity to contribute to increasing access to accurate information across the continent.


Find our partners here:

HaqCheck's website

HaqCheck's twitter


Further reading:

Unesco news release