Communicating resilience in a time of a pandemic 

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Communicating resilience in a time of a pandemic 

The theme of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020 is Covid-19 and Indigenous peoples’ resilience. 

WACC is strengthening the communication outreach of Indigenous communities in order to bring about greater preparedness and resilience in the event of further outbreaks. 

While the exact origins of Covid-19 have not yet been confirmed, pandemics such as the coronavirus are one of the consequences of humanity’s destruction of forests and other natural ecosystems, according to UN and WHO experts. It is, therefore, more important than ever to safeguard indigenous peoples and their knowledge. 

The territories of Indigenous peoples are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity and they can teach us much about how to rebalance our relationship with nature and reduce the risk of future pandemics. 

Indigenous communities already experience poor access to healthcare, significantly higher rates of diseases, lack of access to essential services, sanitation, and other key preventive measures. Even when Indigenous peoples can access healthcare services,  they often face stigma and discrimination. 

With the loss of traditional livelihoods, many Indigenous peoples are being adversely affected by the pandemic. The situation of Indigenous women, who are often the main providers of food and nutrition to their families, is even graver. 

Indigenous broadcasters around the world have been at the forefront of protecting their communities from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Using robust journalistic practices to ensure accuracy and creative ways to address misinformation directly with their listeners, they have produced critically important content in local and Indigenous languages appropriate to their specific contexts. Some of them have also played the role of public watchdogs in order to ensure that local government responses were unfolding in a transparent way, and have helped to organise community-led responses such as food collection and delivery aimed at those left without an income. 

Recently, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights commended the Indigenous Community Radio Network of Nepal’s (ICRN) production of public service announcements (PSAs) about Covid-19 in indigenous languages. 

A partner of WACC Global, ICRN said it was prompted to produce PSAs about Covid-19 that were targeted specifically at Nepal’s Indigenous communities in the absence of critical information about the disease in languages they could understand. 

Small, community-based radio stations may seem like an outdated mode of communication, but for many Indigenous Peoples the low cost of radio makes it the ideal tool for defending their cultures, their lands and natural resources. 

Community media lie at the heart of locally relevant and appropriate responses to the needs of Indigenous communities. OInternational Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020, WACC is proud to support their right to communicate. 

Photo above: Johnny Antesano, a 4-year old Guarani Indigenous boy in Choroquepiao, a small village in Bolivia, helps his mother, Yela Vilera, tend their family garden. They and their neighbors started their gardens with assistance from Church World Service, supplementing their corn-based diet with nutritious vegetables and fruits. By Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance