How are Indigenous and marginalised communities affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic? And how are they responding? Here we share the experiences of the InsightShare network hubs.

As agents of change, Indigenous communities are best placed to communicate their experiences of COVID-19; inside and outside of the community.

Our Indigenous partners are working to meet the urgent need of COVID-19 information in local languages, and in culturally relevant ways. InsightShare will support our international hubs as they define their approach to the longterm effects of the global pandemic.

Through our model of decolonising systems of knowledge and power, the work of Indigenous communities resists the tightening of the grip of the already powerful, and offers hope for a radical shift of the status quo


Do you want to know more about how we’re responding to the global COVID-19 crisis?

Read our article COVID-19: Local Responses to a Global Crisis which describes our approach to the issue.

Francis Shomet Ole Naingisa, Maasai community, Tanzania

“The worst part of the situation of our community is the high level of illiteracy. This makes it impossible for people to learn from text messages by the government and other agencies on self protection measures.

Video in the Maa language is the most effective medium of communication on the colossal dangers of Corona and self protection measures.”

Francis Shomet Ole Naingisa, a Maasai elder from Tanzania, and a founding member of the Pan-African Living Cultures Alliance (PALCA). PALCA have committed to providing support and leadership on the crisis where they can. 

NEN Collective, Nagaland, India

The North East Network (NEN), an indigenous hub based in Nagaland, India and trained by InsightShare, produced an informative video with clear health instructions to follow. Collaborating with the health centre in Chizami, they communicated advice in the local Naga language.

The NEN team made sure the information would reach most of the community members by sharing the short video via WhatsApp groups.

Evelyn Paraboy Kanei, Maasai community, Tanzania

“The first quarter of 2020 has just ended and I have seen a lot in those three months. I’ve seen floods that neither I or the older people in my community have ever seen.

We’ve had so many natural disasters within a short period of time. Villages are becoming islands …. With so much water on the ground there is only one road to reach the village. If that one road is blocked the village will be isolated from the rest of Tanzania.

Images of flooding and damage from Matabete Village, Mbarali District, Mbeya Region in Tanzania

After the floods, we had dangerous thunderstorms that I have again never seen in my life. The thunderstorm damaged houses, thousands of trees fell down, and cows were struck and killed by the thunderstorms. Three hippopotamus have been seen walking around the river and dam in our village for the first time. The river is seasonal so it doesn’t normally have hippopotamus.

I’ve heard that the African continent will be hit really hard by the corona virus. The floods, thunderstorms, other natural disasters and the corona virus will affect us more.”

Evelyn, Massai delegate visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford for the Living Cultures: Decolonise Cultural Spaces project in 2020.

Evelyn Paraboy Kanei is from the Ilparakuyo Maasai community. She was a member of the 2020 delegation of Maasai representatives to the UK as part of the Living Cultures: Decolonising Cultural Spaces project.

Magella Hassan Lenatiyama, El Molo community, Kenya

“The language to explain to people is what is missing. We have been trying to explain that this is different to cholera. Another big worry here is food. With no movement, what will people do for certainty?

Images of local hand washing facilities the El Molo community have implemented to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Communities are trying really hard to prevent spread by observing directives of washing hands regularly, observing social distancing, keeping away from gatherings and staying home and seeking medical attention if sick.”

Magella is an InsightShare Indigenous Associate from the El Molo community.  He works uses participatory video to work with El Molo youth, and to preserve the endangered El Molo culture and language through video dictionaries.


Theresa Wigley, Amava Oluntu, Muizenberg, South Africa

‘The kitchen is the heart of the home… These kitchens are the heart of their community: they are the one place that people are going to come to every day, and so they become very powerful places to communicate information.’

Community Kitchens in Muizenberg help tackle food scarcity and are sites of knowledge and skills sharing.

In Muizenberg, South Africa, communities are using communications and participatory techniques to disseminate information on COVID-19 and to tackle food scarcity by using innovative kitchen-mapping programme.

‘It has been really important for the Vrygrond group to see the world pay so much attention to problems that are everyday for them. I can’t speak for them, but I guess that the dream is that this level of attention can bring to light a lot of what needs to change, before, during and long after COVID is around.’ 

Theresa Wigley works together with a group of individuals and organisations at Amava Oluntu creating learning experiences that bridge divides, using participatory video and other techniques.

Ayanda Mncwabe-Mama, Mnqaba James village, South Africa

“Capturing this insert about my village, was a refreshing surprise and a contrast to what I see everywhere in the media about Africans in rural settings. Our being and values as Africans is within, it does not matter if one does not see us without. Culture evolves but we should never forget our innate wisdom because this alone can help save us from the Covid-19 – going back to our ways of knowing.”

Photo of Ayanda, InsightShare associate from South Africa

Ayanda’s video explores the richness of African identity in Mnqaba James village, South Africa. Through interviews with three residents of Mnqaba James village on COVID-19, this richness is amplified and refuses to become one neat perspective. 

Jen Awingan, Ammoyo Volunteers, Luzon the Philippines

Jen Awingan has previously worked with InsightShare on Participatory Video projects based in the Philippines. Now, she is working with the Ammoyo Volunteers to create videos documenting the struggles of fishing communities in Luzon and raising awareness for their self-organised relief programme.

This video highlights the struggles of fishing communities in Luzon and the lack of government support they have received. In response, local people have driven their own campaign, Ammoyo: Ilocos Peoples COVID-19 Response. 



Balungile Ntshangase, Amadiba area of the Eastern Cape province, South Africa

“I believe that there is a reason behind, or a lesson to learn from, each and everything that is happening in our lives. When I heard about coronavirus, I thought about the human mistakes that have brought us here; and I also thought that the time of coronavirus could be a time to restart and renew. So this experience comes to me in the form of lessons, lessons about nature, rural life, tradition and politics.”

Balungile Ntshanagase lives in the rural village of Gobodweni in the Amadiba area of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. She is a farmer, the co-founder of Youth Voice Out, a group that discusses teenage pregnancy in her village, and part of the Amadiba participatory video team, the latest indigenous community media hub to join the InsightShare network.


Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap