Meeting of the Inter-Institutional Committee on Covid-19, Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, Rio Negro
As the Coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, Indigenous peoples of Rio Negro, Brazil, were greatly affected. Rio Negro is a tributary of the Amazon River, and the Indigenous peoples are represented by its Federation of Indigenous organizations of Rio Negro (FOIRN).
FOIRN has successfully managed the unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic to Indigenous peoples, by mobilizing support and coordinating effective actions through an Inter-institutional forum of the Municipality of São Gabriel da Cachoeira and Inter-institutional Committee for Combating COVID-19. The committee was responsible for coordinating actions /support, develop control strategies and implement Action Plans with Instituto Socio-ambiental and other partners.
While traditional knowledge played a vital role in combating COVID-19, FOIRN also supported the Health Ministry (DSEI-ARN) in implementation of Indigenous primary care units, with equipment and communication on pandemic, in culturally appropriate ways. The Wayuri Network of Communication of Rio Negro received “Heroi Global da Informação Mundial” Award by the Global NGO Reporters Without Borders. The Women’s arm of FOIRN also raised R$200,000 to support communities in critical situations, through its Fundraising campaign “We Care”. FOIRN also recognizes the support of its partners, that enabled FOIRN to act interculturally with a leading role in tackling COVID-19 pandemic, in the absence of government’s support.
Moving forward, FOIRN will continue to advocate for improved health care including mental health, communication infrastructure, renewable energy, and culture and traditional knowledge preservation. Also, FOIRN will monitor the health issues, including malaria outbreak, and support the health system.
Since 1987, FOIRN has been promoting the preservation of the culture of 23 Indigenous peoples of Rio Negro, implementing sustainable development actions, and maintaining the balance between culture, traditional way of life and use of sustainable non-indigenous technologies to preserve life and the forest. Therefore, FOIRN will “remain steadfast in defending their territories and forests, as life and culture depend on the standing forest, clean rivers, and protective spirits of the forest in harmony with our existence. This balance guarantees life for the entire planet Earth. Without the Amazon, there is no life and we are the greatest defenders of life!”