++This story is part of a yearlong series on how the pandemic is impacting women in Africa, most acutely in the least developed countries. AP's series is funded by the European Journalism Centre's European Development Journalism Grants program, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. AP is responsible for all content++
Kaya - 25 October 2021
1. Local radio host Mariama Sawadogo and other women gathering under a tree and talking
HEADLINE: Women's voices to fight COVID-19.
2. Wide of Sawadogo and other women gathering under a tree and talking
ANNOTATION: Virus testing, vaccines and public messaging against COVID-19 are reaching few of Burkina Faso's 20 million citizens.
3. SOUNDBITE (Moore) Mariama Sawadogo, radio host:
"We have to fight against this disease together. If you talk to someone who is not aware of the disease, it's for his own benefit"
4. Various of women outside a mosque listening Sawadogo's radio show on their mobile phones
5. Mid of Zenabou Sawadogo (not related to Mariama) listening the show on her mobile phone
ANNOTATION: In Kaya, about 85km from the capital, women huddle together to tune in to the radio show led by Sawadogo, to get information about the virus.
6. Close of Sawadogo talking during the show UPSOUND (Moore) "How can you protect yourself from COVID-19?"
7. Wide of Sawadogo during the radio show UPSOUND (Moore) "The first part will be a conversation"
Kaya - 26 October 2021
8. Wide of Zenabou Sawadogo (not related to Mariama) posing for a picture with five of her six kids outside the compound where they live.
ANNOTATION: Zenabou Sawadogo, a mother of six children, is one of the listeners.
9. SOUNDBITE (Moore) Zenabou Sawadogo, resident of Kaya who listen the radio show about COVID-19:
"Over what they (the government) told us; we have learnt more from listening to the radio".
Ouagadougou - 4 November 2021
10. Wide of people riding motorcycles passing by a banner reading (French) "Vaccination against COVID-19. Together we eliminate COVID-19 in Burkina Faso, by getting us vaccinated"
11. Close of the banner reading (French) "against the COVID-19"
ANNOTATION: Burkina Faso, with one of the world's weakest health systems, was hard hit when the pandemic struck last year.
Ouagadougou - 29 October 2021
12. Wide of women and girls attending the Friday prayers at a mosque. AUDIO: people praying.
13. Girls passing by the entrance of the mosque
14. Various of Zenabou Coulibaly Zongo inside the mosque speaking to other women in Jola (one of the local languages)
ANNOTATION: Zenabou Coulibaly Zongo was hospitalized with bronchial pneumonia. While she was able to pay for oxygen treatment at a private clinic, she was shocked to see others dying.
"It is true that we have many problems, we are victims of many actions, but women need to know that they are like a phoenix. Whatever difficulties we may have, whatever the cost, they must know in their hearts that they have the ability, to rise from the ashes."
Ouagadougou - 5 November 2021
22. Traveling of woman carrying a baby on her back riding a motorcycle, and transporting a big box with products
ANNOTATION: AP's series is funded by the European Journalism Centre's European Development Journalism Grants program, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Virus testing, vaccines and public messaging against COVID-19 are reaching few of Burkina Faso's 20 million citizens.
In Kaya, about 85km from the capital, women huddle together to tune into the radio show led by Sawadogo, to get information about the virus.
Mariama Sawadogo sits in a small radio 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 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 the 44-year-old "Aunty" as she gently guides them to the 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 in the West African country, where many feel the government has let them down.
"In addition to what they (government) told us, we have learnt more by listening to the radio," said Zenabou Sawadogo, who is not related to Mariama Sawadogo, but is a loyal listener.
Kaya is a haven in the conflict-plagued country, where tens of thousands of displaced people have sought shelter as violence that spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015 escalates.
Amid a chaotic atmosphere - with the military struggling to stem violence and an ultimatum from the opposition to the president - misinformation has flourished.
Sawadogo's radio presence is a leading voice to fight it.
She hears from listeners who say the pandemic was created to mislead Black people and that vaccines will sterilize them.
Burkina Faso was hard hit when the pandemic struck last March, recording some of Africa's highest infection numbers and death rates.
Officials implemented curfews, sealed the landlocked country's borders, and closed mosques, churches, schools and markets.
Residents protested; after a few weeks, most restrictions were lifted.
Even in the capital Ouagadougou, some 60 miles (85 kilometers) from Kaya, messaging has not been widespread, with COVID-19 billboards and signs scarce.
There, Zenabou Coulibaly Zongo spends her own money making soap and buying hand sanitizer for mosques, markets and health centers.
At the start of the pandemic, Zongo, now 63, needed hospital treatment for bronchial pneumonia.
She paid for oxygen treatments at a private clinic, watching others die.
Now, she delivers her soaps and informs people about COVID-19.
Many inside and outside Burkina Faso do not trust virus data provided by the government, which has reported 15,514 cases and 265 deaths in total, noting a lack of testing and a health system the UN has called among the world's weakest.
Burkina Faso has also struggled to rollout COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite being part of COVAX, the UN-backed program to provide shots to developing nations, the country was one of the world's last to receive the jabs.
Vaccine hesitancy runs so deep that even radio host Sawadogo has yet to receive a jab.
She worries about links between the vaccines and rare blood clots in women, widely publicized during a fumbled rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe.
Zongo is also not vaccinated, insisting she first wants to finish medication for a recent accident.
Both women are part of a gender gap that experts fear means African women are the world's least vaccinated population.
But Zongo and Sawadogo say they will eventually be vaccinated and continue spreading messages about COVID-19 and advocate for women.
"It is true that we have many problems, we are victims of many actions, but women need to know that they are like a phoenix," Zongo said. "Whatever difficulties we may have, whatever the cost, they (women) must know in their hearts that they have the ability, to rise from the ashes."