African Voices – UNESCO’s indigenous partner in Africa

COVID-19 affects everyone but it does not impact evenly on all populations. In this report from the ground, African indigenous leaders share with UNESCO their experiences of the onset of the global pandemic in their communities. They speak of the generosity, solidarity and responsiveness of their communities and organizations.

UNESCO has developed valuable partnerships with indigenous peoples’ partner organizations. The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) was one of the first indigenous peoples’ organizations to establish an official partnership with UNESCO and participate in programme initiatives with the Sectors for Natural Sciences, Education and Culture. The Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) programme in the Natural Sciences Sector recently undertook consultations with IPACC indigenous leaders in seven African countries (Botswana, Chad, DR Congo, Kenya, Morocco, Niger and South Africa) to understand their current context, concerns and expectations of UNESCO within the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Indigenous leaders reported that they are mobilizing for health care support at village level. In all countries, indigenous peoples’ organisations have self-mobilised to communicate in local languages, provide soap or food parcels to households, work with health authorities and attempt to explain in local languages the types of preventative actions to be taken.