COVID Observatories

Moving forward

After our first in-person meeting on March 23, we decided to evolve our association to form The Indigenous Peoples Observatory Network (IPON). We are a network of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, decision-makers, NGOs, and community members who have come together to better understand and respond to threats facing Indigenous communities globally. 


COVID-19 does not affect all populations equally. From the Polar Regions to the tropics, Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are at particular high risk, exacerbated by climate risks and socio-economic stresses. National responses to the pandemic are compounding these challenges, with COVID-19 recovery risking further marginalizing IPs. Little is known, however, about how IPs are experiencing and responding to COVID-19, or what their needs are for recovery.

The project

This project is working with IPs and decision-makers to document the impacts COVID-19 is having on communities and how people are responding, with a specific focus on food systems. The project is collaborating with 23 Indigenous groups in 12 countries, working in low, middle, and high-income nations, and has a strong focus on the documenting the stories, lived experience, and understandings of COVID-19 and the impacts it is having.

COVID Observatories have been established in each region, and are composed of:

Catalysing impact

The project is generating new knowledge on COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples, with a focus on in-country capacity building, training, and outreach. The work will catalyse and support local to national-level policy processes on pandemic response, recovery, and preparedness, identifying intervention opportunities across scales. Compiling and comparing the experiences across the diverse regions and communities in the project will help us identify global insights, evidence, and best practices. 


The COVID Observatories is collaborating with IPs and decision makers in 14 Nations: Uganda (IP: Batwa), Namibia (Ovambo), Ghana (Dagaaba), South Africa (Xhosa), Peru (Asháninka, Shawi), Bolivia (Guarani, Amazónicos, Quechuas, Aymaras), Sri Lanka (coastal-Vedda), India (Irula, Badaga, Toda, Kota, Kurumba), Fiji (iTaukei), Russia (Even), Australia (Gubbi Gubbi), Canada (Inuit). Partnering universities and institutes includes: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, University of Alberta, University of Warwick, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, University of Ghana, Uganda National Health Organisation, University of Cape Town, University of Northern British Columbia, University of  Nairobi, and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, and the FAO and UNESCO.

Universities and Institutes 

United Kingdom 




South Africa


Sri Lanka




International Organizations

The COVID Observatories project is funded via a collective fund award from UKRI GCRF/Newton Fund, and is also supported by the Wellcome Trust