GCRF_NF228 The COVID Observatories: Monitoring the interaction of pandemics, climate risks, & food systems among the most disadvantaged communities

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Sch of Geography

Abstract

Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are believed to be at particularly high risk from COVID, exacerbated by climate risks and socio-economic stresses. There is emerging evidence that national responses to the pandemic are compounding the vulnerability of IPs, exacerbated by little--if any--understanding on the unique pathways through which COVID will affect IPs. This project will address this knowledge and policy gap by documenting, monitoring, and examining how COVID is interacting with multiple stresses to affect the food systems of IPs globally, co-generating knowledge and capacity to strengthen resilience. Our focus on food reflects the fact that many of the risks posed by COVID stem from interactions with food systems, which for IPs are composed of a mix of traditional and modern elements. The work will be undertaken in collaboration with 24 distinct Indigenous peoples in 14 countries, and is structured around objectives which will: document the emergence of COVID and examine its impacts on food systems to-date; monitor and examine the real-time lived experiences, responses, and observations on COVIDs impact on food systems; compile and assess how COVID is being officially communicated and responded to; identify, examine, and promote interventions to strengthen resilience; and examine scalable insights for vulnerable populations across LMICs. Qualitative data collection is underpinned by a network of 'COVID Observers' within communities, in decision making roles, and researchers already located in the study regions, who will document their experiences and observations in reflective diaries over a 12 month period, capturing different stages of the pandemic and how multiple factors interact over time to create vulnerability and resilience. The global scope of the work builds upon ongoing and completed projects by team members in the study regions, leveraging considerable capacity and networks developed in work funded by DFID, UKRI, Wellcome Trust, FAO, and IDRC, among others.

Publications

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Ainembabazi T.; Namanya D. (2022) [UGANDA]: BATWA AND COVID-19

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Chicmana V.; Zavaleta-Cortijo C.; Arotoma I.; Anza-Ramirez, C. (2022) PERU: SHAWI AND ASHANINKA AND COVID-19

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Togarepi C; Hangula MM; Angula M (2022) [NAMIBIA]: SAN AND OVATJIMBA | INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND COVID-19

 
Title Flyers co-created with and for Indigenous people to tackle the misinformation about COVID-19 vaccination 
Description In the same line, to reduce or mitigate the myths around vaccines, we, in collaboration with a Women Indigenous Organization OMIASEC, and a National Indigenous Organization AIDESEP, designed flyers to share with all the communities our observers can reach. This process was systematized to identify the myths and fake news. Then, the drafts were validated and approved by the Indigenous leaders in order to show a clear language and key messages for the communities. The myths depicted in the flyers are in Spanish and are based on the information we gathered in the interviews with the observers and can be found below and also attached in the email. The flyers were used by the Indigenous leaders to start a process of sensitization about COVID-19 vaccination using their own language and during visits to their communities and workshops. Indeed, our own community participants were reluctant to be vaccinated, but at the end of the process, they accepted the two shots. We did all of these working virtually with our Indigenous leaders' partners. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Our purpose with these activities was not to quantify the impact of thhis flyers. What we wanted to do was provide the required information in a timely manner so that indigenous communities lose their fear of vaccination. After sharing the flyers, our observers were asked if there had been any impact. They referred to whether confidence in vaccines for COVID-19 as well as in health personnel was increasing. These qualitative data have not yet been fully analysed. 
URL https://www.facebook.com/COVID.Observatories/photos/301305048477853
 
Title Showcase of the project in a virtual event on Science in Peru 
Description Brief video with animations to showcase the COVID Observatories project in a virtual event for researchers in Peru 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Peruvian researchers got to know about the project 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yzjwQRMBHg
 
Description Peru case study about misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and how co-generating solutions, actions were taken to, in part, tackle this situation.
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Our purpose with these activities was not to quantify the impact of these interventions. What we wanted to do was provide the required information in a timely manner so that indigenous communities lose their fear of vaccination. After the two actions described above, our observers were asked if there had been any impact. They referred to whether confidence in vaccines for COVID-19 as well as in health personnel was increasing. These qualitative data have not yet been fully analysed.
 
Description Voices from the frontline: Climate change, wildfires, and adaptation in the Russian Arctic (Arctic Voices)
Amount £350,000 (GBP)
Organisation Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 11/2022
 
Title Interview and Diary-keeping Guides for the Community Observers, Policy Observers, and Research Observers 
Description These documents contain a set of themes and sample questions to guide the diary-keeping and interviews to our different observers across the study regions (objective 3 of the project). The themes and sample questions build upon those for a stocktaking previously discussed with the team and are designed to underpin the regular collection of data on community, policy and researchers' perceptions, experiences, understanding, and responses to COVID-19. The central component of this objective across the study is that we collect these observations over a 12 month period, with regular meetings between the regional teams and local observer(s). 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This tool contributes to one of the main components of the project and has been developed in collaboration with all team members. The guides will be adjusted to the contexts of each region, as well as will vary as the project progresses. 
 
Description Presentation of preliminary data at the "Research Meeting Cayetano Heredia" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact In the last fifteen years, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia has held an event to bring together leading researchers from different disciplines, who present the results of their main research, innovation and entrepreneurship projects, carried out in the last 2 years within the Heredian community. With this, the interaction between the different scientific disciplines, the active participation of teachers and students, and discussion forums are encouraged. In this opportunity, one of the sessions was intended to address issues related to the impact of COVID-19 on indigenous populations. Victoria Chicmana, from the COVID Observatories Project, presented preliminary results based on the interviews made to the community and policy observers so far.
An interesting discussion followed the presentation requesting more information as well as new approaches to address some challenges reported.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pJS5I-8tDyUWnukp9i82IwtGp_3jE-Gy/view
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL http://epicah.pe/sitio/
 
Description Presentation on UN DESA International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous peoples 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact The principal investigator (James Ford) and 4 co-investigators from Peru (Carol Zavaleta and Ingrid Arotoma Rojas) Russia (Maria Osipova), and Uganda (Didas Namanya) presented at the UN DESA International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous peoples and pandemics. This presentation included objectives, partners and approach of the COVID Observatories Project as well as the showcase of how three of the Indigenous Peoples that are part of the project are facing this pandemic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/egm-indigenous-peoples-and-pandemics.html
 
Description Talk about climate change, COVID-19 and Indigenous food security and a brief introduction to the project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Instituto de Medicina Tropical Alexander Von Humboldt at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia organises every month a talk to present current research work, either in progress or completed, to students to increase their interest in topics related to its research line. In this opportunity, Dr. Carol Zavaleta presented about climate change, COVID-19 and indigenous food security, as well as a brief description of the ongoing project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TlDjeeNqnNfDO3iV5caZA89Fpjh4dVwz/view