COVID-19 Response June, 2020

The pandemic is still sweeping through the Amazon, showing how exposed this seemingly impermeable forest can be. Indigenous and traditional communities of the rainforest are in dire need of support.

ACT continues to band together with civil society and governments in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Suriname to mitigate and manage the crisis locally. Our partners span universities, public health departments, volunteer air patrols, health NGOs, indigenous organizations, ACT-trained Amazon Conservation Rangers, and more.

Here is how we are reshaping our current priorities in response to the pandemic. 

COVID-19 Repsonse, Vaupes, Colombia

Support to member families and communities of ACTIVA (Asociación de Capitanes Tradicionales Indígenas del Cananarí), located in the department of Vaupés, Colombia


Communications efforts

Area: International |

Area: National |

  • Developed and disseminated infographics with information on hand washing, sanitary measures, and the use of cloth masks.

Area: Amazonas|

  • Provided financial support to develop and broadcast a radio seminar on prevention, care and epidemiological surveillance with respect to COVID-19 in indigenous communities of the Colombian Amazon.

Biosecurity Measures

Area: Middle Caquetá River |

  • Delivered biosecurity kits to indigenous reserves located in the departments of Caquetá, Amazonas and Putumayo.

Area: Vaupés|

  • Delivered survival kits to indigenous communities in the department of Vaupés.

Area: Peru|

  • Delivered medicines, oxygen, fuel and biosecurity kits to Matses indigenous persons infected with COVID-19 to facilitate their quarantine in a safe place and thus prevent contagion in their communities.

Essential Needs

Area: Amazonas |

  • Delivered survival kits to all families of the communities affiliated with AIZA in Puerto Arica, CIMTAR and ASOITAM in Tarapacá, and PANI in La Pedrera.
  • Provided financial support for the purchase of fuel to facilitate the distribution of biosecurity and survival kits for indigenous associations.

Area: Vaupés|

  • Provided financial support for the purchase of fuel to facilitate the distribution of biosecurity and survival kits for indigenous organizations affiliated with ACTIVA in Buenos Aires, Vaupés.
  • Delivered survival kits to all families of the communities affiliated with OZIRPA in Papunagua and ACTIVA in Buenos Aires.

Area: Bogotá|

  • Provided financial support to the Uitoto council based in Bogotá for their purchase of supplies used in the preparation of traditional medicines to alleviate the symptoms of COVID-19.

Epidemiological Surveillance

Area: Putumayo|

  • In alliance with the Secretary of Health of the department of Putumayo and the Universidad de los Andes, we developed a strategy to diagnose cases of COVID-19 in at-risk groups such as healthcare personnel, police officers, indigenous guards, migrants, public transportation drivers, and street vendors in the municipalities of Puerto Guzmán, San Miguel and Puerto Leguizamo.
  • Provided financial support to the Putumayo Health Secretariat for the purchase of medical supplies for taking COVID-19 samples in the municipalities of Puerto Guzmán and San Miguel.
  • In Mocoa, Putumayo, in alliance with the Universidad de los Andes, supported the training of healthcare workers in taking COVID-19 samples.
  • In alliance with the Colombian Civil Air Patrol, made roundtrip flights between Putumayo and Bogotá to transport professors from the Universidad de los Andes to carry out training sessions and transfer COVID-19 samples to a laboratory in Bogotá.

Support focus

  • Educational resources
  • Medicine supplies
  • Biosecurity kits
  • Survival kits
  • Financial support
  • Fuel for transportation

Emergency food supplies being delivered, Northern Brazil
Photo courtesy of APIWA



Area: National |

  • Created an emergency plan to address the needs of our indigenous partners:
    • Food and hygiene supplies
    • COVID-19 tests
    • Flight arrangements for indigenous peoples so they can safely return to their communities.
  • Facilitated meetings between our indigenous partners and government representatives to authorize flights for individuals and approval of our testing protocol for individuals returning to their villages.


Area: Xingu

  • Provided financial support to the indigenous association AIU in the municipality of Canarana, Mato Grosso to pay the internet bill and secure continuous communication.
  • Provided financial support for gas and fuel necessary for transportation inside indigenous territories so the Xingu villagers can continue in isolation and avoid the spread of the virus.

Area: Tumucumaque Park

  • Provided financial support for the indigenous association APITIKATXI to pay the rent for their support house (Casa de Apoio), which is hosting indigenous people during their quarantine and isolation.
  • Provided technical support to several indigenous organizations in meetings with representatives from the government and civil society to secure the supply of materials in the coming month.

Support focus

  • Securing supplies of medicine and biosecurity kits
  • Technical support
  • Financial support
  • Gas and fuel for transportation

Village leader Moshesi Sanaupe showing his grandchildren the community zoning map in the Trio village of Pepelu Tepu, Suriname



Area: National |

  • Continued to purchase call credits to enable the members of the village of Pelelu Tepu to stay in touch with family and other relations while gaining awareness of developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Compiled a COVID-19 risk map for/concerning ACT partner and related communities in order to draw attention to vulnerabilities of the communities that may lead to increased risk or poor resilience when impacted by COVID-19.
  • In partnership with Foundation Mulokot of Kawemhaken, we produced podcasts in Trio and Wayana to be disseminated via social media.
  • Provided the Medical Mission with access to ACT’s satellite phone to be utilized in the mission to help manage an outbreak in the village of Sipaliwini. 
  • Compiled a situation analysis / diagnostic report on the COVID-19 situation with respect to ACT-Suriname’s partner communities for use as a communications and urgent action implementation tool.
  • Developed and disseminated COVID-19 health safety infographics and posters in multiple languages (Dutch, Sranantongo, Trio, Wayana, and Matawai) through social media seeking to inform indigenous and tribal populations. 
  • Produced and disseminated radio announcements and WhatsApp voice messages in Trio and Sranantongo to explain COVID-19, prevention measures, and precautions if exposed.
  • Developed and disseminated an animated video with COVID-19 health safety information. 
  • Disseminated information regarding COVID-19 and safety precautions in partnership with the Medical Mission through letters, posters, video, WhatsApp groups, and social media channels, all in the native languages of the target groups.
  • Disseminated COVID-19 awareness and health safety information to rural communities in partnership with a Global Shapers hub and local partners through social media channels and direct points of contact in these communities.

Biosecurity Measures

Area: National |

  • Provided financial support to the Medical Mission to manage a COVID-19 outbreak in the village of Sipaliwini.
  • Provided fuel to facilitate access to the village by boat, and paid flight costs for supplies from the Medical Mission to be flown in the village to set up proper treatment facilities. 
  • Continued support of the Amazon Conservation Rangers in helping distribute soap and disinfectants, accompanied with biosafety instructions in indigenous communities supported by ACT.
  • In the Matawai (Maroon community) area, we mobilized and provided technical support to key community members to make face masks from the resources they have at hand in their community.
  • Provided the community of Sipaliwini with face masks to mitigate the spread of the virus. 
  • Purchased and distributed contactless thermometers for indigenous communities and the Maroon communities in central Suriname.
  • Provided financial support for the Medical Mission to purchase soap and disinfecting materials and distribute these to the southern Suriname villages of Kwamalasamutu, Pelelu Tepu, Apetina, Kawemhakan, Alalapadu, Palumeu, Curuni and Sipaliwini.  
  • Supported the Amazon Conservation Rangers and traditional clinics in efforts to provide traditional medicine and monitor potential risks in interior communities.  
  • Provided soap and detergents to the Matawai community via the traditional authorities, thereby ensuring that community members are equipped to implement biosafety measures in the fight against COVID-19.  

Essential Needs

Area: National |

  • Provided indigenous communities in southern Suriname and stranded indigenous people in the capital city of Paramaribo with relief packages.
  • Conducted a collaborative Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) survey with UNICEF to assess how women and children are being impacted by COVID-19 in rural communities. 
  • Provided households in the Matawai area (across all villages) with food packages with the help of traditional authorities and Amazon Conservation Rangers. 
  • Committed support to the Mulokot Foundation of Kawemhakan to address food shortages in the Wayana area (Kawamhakan, Apetina and Palumeu).
  • Collaborated with Conservation International – Suriname, which has offered to provide necessary items and supplies per the recommendations of a situational analysis.

Support focus

  • Relief packages
  • Financial support
  • Food and hygiene supplies
  • Contactless thermometers
  • Face masks 
  • Flight costs
  • Fuel for transportation
  • Satellite phone

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