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"The Truth About Covid": Anti-Disinformation Initiative Identified as Best Practice in the Sahel Spécial

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, Timbuktu Institute and Sayara International have joined forces in the field of strategic communication and awareness raising among local communities in the Sahel. In partnership with CESTI a Dakar based leading regional institution for training communication professionals in Africa, the two organizations have mobilized civil society, media, community leaders and "ambassadors" committed to fighting disinformation and fake news on social networks.
With webinars and other symposia across the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin countries, this coalition of actors has garnered the support of many organizations.

For its innovative methodology and inclusive strategy based on an unprecedented alliance between scientific research, training structures for information professionals, mass media and influencers on social networks, the "Truth about Covid" initiative has been identified as a good practice in the fight against Disinformation in the Sahel. The Timbuktu Institute team was invited to Bamako as part of a similar European Union project to share lessons learned.

This invitation from Studio Tamani (Fondation Hirondelle) is part of a partnership to widely disseminate content produced by CESTI in Dakar to raise public awareness about the dangers of disinformation. The Hirondelle Foundation is cited as an example in the region especially for its contribution to the promotion of the culture of peace and living together with Studio Tamani in Mali and Studio Kalagou in Niger.

Following this conference, which closed a European Union project on the fight against disinformation in the Sahel, exchanges of best practices will continue between the Timbuktu Institute and civil society actors involved in this field such as Ciné Droit Libre with whom contacts have been established. This organization is originally based in Burkina Faso but works with a vast network of broadcasters in the Sahel.
Similarly, Radio Ndarasson International, which broadcasts throughout the Lake Chad Basin in local languages, has been involved in the initiative, particularly in the popularization of content to raise awareness about disinformation since the start of the covid pandemic.19 In the same vein, a curriculum has been developed for the program.
In the same vein, a curriculum was produced by experts and researchers after a groundbreaking regional study on the vectors of disinformation covering seven countries in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin. 
The findings of this regional survey, conducted through various platforms and local researchers, inspired this curriculum, which continues to be taught in journalism schools and in the training of communication professionals. It has even been translated into Arabic as part of a cooperation between the Timbuktu Institute, Sayara International and the Sudan Academy, a reference structure for training and capacity building of communication professionals.

According to Dr. Bakary Sambe, director of the Timbuktu Institute, "this initiative has provided an unprecedented opportunity in the region for synergy and a coalition of actors committed to fighting the scourge of disinformation, which beyond the pandemic represents a real threat to democracy and stability".