Somali storytellers helping to spread the word — not the virus

Using the power of media to change behaviour could save thousands of lives in Somalia.

UNDP Accelerator Lab Somalia
2 min readApr 2, 2020

With a health infrastructure devastated by decades of war and low levels of public awareness about how to avoid infection, Somalia faces incalculable damage to both people and institutions if it can’t stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

Raising awareness right now could save many thousands of lives in a few weeks’ time.

To help do just that in way that is accessible and entertaining as well as informative, 20 Somali storytellers are producing videos, animations and photos that are already a hit in their local communities.

Who are the Somali storytellers?

The storytellers are young Somali women and men who have completed an immersive programme designed to equip them with the digital storytelling skills they need to generate, edit and share powerful stories about development priorities and initiatives in their local communities.

The storytelling programme was designed by UNDP Somalia’s Accelerator Lab in partnership with experts from Australia’s Queensland University and Digital Storytellers.

On completing the course, the storytellers immediately got to work setting up a YouTube channel and Instagram and Twitter accounts to amplify their messages as widely as possible.

Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the main priority for the storytellers was to identify development challenges and solutions on the ground, capturing stories from their communities to publicise local needs and share news of innovative and inspiring responses that can inform future development interventions.

As the pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts are swiftly becoming the top development priority for every nation, the storytellers have been quick to seek ways to help their communities cope, producing impactful videos to inform the public about how to protect themselves and others from infection.

As well as videos showing people how to wash their hands carefully and achieve social distancing, the Somali storytellers have also already produced videos demonstrating how to produce affordable hand sanitizer gel!

Follow their amazing work at #somalistorytellers and help spread the word about how to protect yourself and others from the virus.



UNDP Accelerator Lab Somalia

Building the world’s largest learning network around development challenges. 60 Labs in 78 countries.