May 192020

Distributing hygiene products provided by a Tribes Alive grant in a Kaiabi village

The Tribes Alive Coronavirus Fund

Tribes Alive is supporting essential practical steps that indigenous communities need to take as a result of the pandemic. But the need for emergency resources is great, so we have launched an appeal:

Tribes Alive Coronavirus Appeal


We have a source of funding which will match what we raise from this appeal. This doubles the value of your donation so please give, however much you can afford. No sum is too small, and every penny will be doubled.

You can contribute even more by passing on our appeal to your friends, collegues and family. Everything we raise will be distributed directly to the communities we work with in the Xingu to address their urgent needs.

Please help keep these vulnerable people safe.

Covid-19 Pandemic and Indigenous People

Covid-19 brings the danger of mass deaths to indigenous communities. It could result in the genocide of entire tribes.

Indigenous people have lower immunity to introduced viral and bacterial infections, so they suffer worse outcomes, often dying from diseases which are introduced from outside their Amazon forest environment. Right up until the 1970s diseases like measles and ‘flu devastated communities in the Xingu region, resulting in the deaths of over 80% of people of all ages in some villages.

Indigenous leaders know that if Covid-19 gets into an indigenous village it will spread very quickly, so they are taking drastic steps to isolate themselves. Their way of life makes our style of household-by-household lockdown impossible, they can only protect whole communities. But that means that a single failure, a once-only infection would be disastrous. They need to keep their villages isolated now, before there is any chance of an infection being introduced.

Isolation and Self-sufficiency, Hygiene and Medicines

In recent years many communities have become more dependent on purchased goods, which means that there is increasing contact with the outside world. This must now stop, but to make up for for the provisions they normally get from towns outside of their reserves they need to increase the crops they grow and ramp up their fishing and hunting. They need tools and equipment. They also need supplies of hygiene products and medicines, and emergency funds ready to respond in case anyone does fall ill.

By purchasing supplies communally they can arrange for them to be transported and distibuted to the villages safely to minimise any possibility of taking the disease into the communities and avoid the necessity for each village to send a representative to town.

In a word, it makes them safer.

Invasions, Fires and Illegal Miners

Outsiders invading indigenous lands can carry the Coronavirus with them. Despite the pandemic criminal activity in the Amzon is increasing. This year the fires have started early, and forest destruction in April was more than 64% worse than last year – 2020 promises to be a record for deforestation in Brazil. Illegal loggers, miners and land grabbers are taking advantage of the paralysis of enforcement activity and encouragement by President Bolsonaro to intensify their invasions of indigenous territories to steal trees and open illegal gold mines; they are even destroying the forest to establish cattle pastures.

In the face of these attacks on their security and health, indigenous communities are protecting themselves, by organising firefighting teams and by monitoring and patrolling the borders of their lands. They maintain vigilance posts at the most threatened points along their boundaries.

But these activities require resources. Faced with invaders who are armed and well-equipped with vehicles and boats, they can only respond effectively if they have the right equipment, including vehicles, boats with outboard motors and the fuel to keep them moving. They have thousands of kilometres of boundaries to monitor, so travelling on foot or in paddled canoes is not viable.

These activities will also make use of resources from the Tribes Alive Coronavirus Fund.

Tribes Alive Coronavirus Appeal