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VOA Programming Weekly Highlights, August 3, 2023

VOA’s Value-Added Coverage of the Russia-Africa Summit Generates Wide Interest

VOA Russian’s coverage of the Russia-Africa summit featured expert analysis on the outcome of Putin’s attempt to expand trade and other ties with African leaders. Analysts William Gumede of the University of Witwatersrand, CSIS Transnational Threats Project Director Catrina Doxsee, and Janusz Bugajski and Sergey Sukhankin of the Jamestown Foundation provided insight into Putin’s goals and the tools he deploys to expand influence on the African continent. Coverage also included U.S. reaction to Russia’s offer to supply grain to Africa; VOA Russian's July 28 show America, which focused on the summit; and VOA Russian reporters' commentary on VOA English-to-Africa’s Africa News Tonight show. In total, VOA Russian's social media platforms garnered 200K+ views as a result of this coverage.

VOA Africa’s Coverage of Niger Coup Draws Large Audience

As events in Niger unfolded with a coup against President Bazoum's government, VOA’s Africa Division delivered up-to-the-minute stringer reports, expert analysis, Reels/Shorts, and Bambara-language live streams from Niamey in the midst of events. As part of VOA’s enhanced local presence in key areas of Africa, coverage originated from the Division’s reporting center in Niger’s capital where supporters of the coup were seen waving Russian flags. VOA Bambara, VOA Hausa and VOA French pre-empted programming for extensive coverage on July 27, generating more than 650K views combined in four days.

VOA Khmer Praised for Coverage of Cambodia's Pinnacle Election

“I praise VOA... for quality news much needed by Cambodian society,” says a viewer about Khmer’s coverage of the July 23 election, which cemented Prime Minister Hun Sen’s dynasty and secured his son’s rule. With no local independent media, Cambodians flocked to VOA's platforms for news and to voice their opinions. Reporting on Washington’s visa bans and aid freeze after the “neither free nor fair” vote generated 90K views from July 24 to July 31 and drew appreciation of America “for always helping Cambodians” along with calls for tougher action. Two election reports garnered 131K+ combined views from July 17 to July 31.

Immigration Coverage Amasses Nearly Half a Million Views

New immigration developments captured 442K+ views on VOA Spanish's digital platforms. The service reported on migrants’ continuous challenges, including non-operational processing centers abroad; alleged abuses by border officials; Texas’ floating border wall; and a federal judge’s blocking of President Biden's asylum policy. As Texas continued defending its border security actions, tensions between state and federal governments escalated. Vice President Kamala Harris criticized Florida and Texas governors’ treatment of migrants and called on Congress for immigration reform. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas defended the Biden administration’s approach, noting the U.S. expanded lawful and safe pathways for seeking humanitarian relief, while U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a 42 percent drop in illegal immigration.

VOA Learning English Partners with Cambridge University to Teach Afghan Students

VOA Learning English and Christ's College in the University of Cambridge signed a partnership agreement to "collaborate in the creation and distribution of English Learning content to train English language teachers in Afghanistan and other worldwide regions hosting individuals displaced from Afghanistan." As part of the agreement, VOA and Cambridge staff will deliver online training, using Learning English content to teach Afghan women who are trying to pursue or continue their higher education through the Rahela Trust. The partnership will also work with Future Brilliance to provide training to Afghan refugees currently in Pakistan.

VOA News Center Query Uncovers Developments in Kenya

At a press conference with Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga after a wave of street protests, VOA Nairobi Bureau Chief Mariama Diallo Crandall asked about a potential meeting between Odinga and Kenyan President William Ruto. Odinga revealed that Ruto had been unwilling to engage in talks and disclosed a surprise visit by the Tanzanian president, who attempted mediation but left without progress. Odinga's statement received significant attention. Following the press conference, Kenya's president tweeted his readiness for talks with Odinga at any time. Mariama’s article was re-published by Global Security,, and Beijing News.

Economic and Societal Crisis in Iran during the Month of Muharram

VOA Persian covered the economic crisis affecting Iranian families during the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Arian Risbaf reported that the cost of bread has surged while 28 million households live below the poverty level. Shahram Bahraminejad reported that families mourned the victims of protests, and the government attempted to impose mandatory hijab during the mourning period. Afshar Sigarchi reported that viewers debated whether Muharram mourning is a protest tool or in service of the government. Total audience engagement across digital platforms surpassed 910,561 impressions between July 25 and July 31.

VOA Afghan Report about Taliban Closure of Beauty Parlors Engages Audience

"We used to come here to spend time talking about our future together. Now even this right has been taken away from us," Bahara, a female salon customer in the capital of Kabul, told VOA in reaction to the Taliban's shutdown of beauty parlors across Afghanistan. Those who spoke to VOA decried the latest action by the Taliban authorities, which not only cuts off one of the few revenue options for Afghan women, but closes the cherished space for socialization. VOA Afghan's video report generated 275K views and 17K reactions on Facebook.