Cool Earth’s Covid-19 Response Update: December 2020
Information written: December 2020
Cool Earth’s covid response continues to do all we can to protect communities, local partner organisations and our colleagues through these challenging times. To keep you up to speed with our developments, here are some answers to the questions that you have been asking.
How does supporting communities in the fight against Covid-19 related to rainforest protection and climate change?
As a community-led organisation, Cool Earth works alongside local people to help keep their forest standing. We’re not just there for people when things are going to plan: we support our local partners through natural disasters, fires, floods and pandemics.
When crises such as Covid-19 happen, local communities know better than anyone what they need, and with your help, we respond to that. For some, the urgent need is medical supplies and healthcare. For others, it’s fast access to food supplies and finding ways to develop food security for the future. Whatever it is, by supporting these needs we can reduce pressure on the forest, minimising the risk that local people face no other option but to sell their trees for cash.
With your support, Cool Earth has been able to react quickly to help people through this crisis. By providing emergency aid, we’re reducing the spread of the disease, improving food security and helping people plan for their futures. If local people can no longer protect their forest, there will be a greater crisis long after this pandemic ends.
In Papua New Guinea, the restriction of movement has led to markets closing down, impacting the ability to sell food, leading to a drop in income and putting pressure on local communities to expand food gardens to provide for their families. Food prices are increasing and due to lack of availability, some basic items are costing more than four times the standard price.
We are in close contact with our local charity partners in Cameroon, Cambodia, DRC and Mozambique, where Covid-19 numbers are currently low, but still pose a huge threat to the remote communities we support.
How will forest be impacted by this pandemic?
It is difficult to predict how nature will have been impacted by this pandemic. However, as global economies work to recover from the damaging impacts of 2020, it’s more than likely that nature will face even bigger challenges in 2021.
In our daily lives, nature provides us with immeasurable social, economic and physical wealth. It’s vital that this isn’t exploited for short-term gain. It’s essential for both our global climate and indigenous and rainforest communities that forest is kept standing for their food, livelihoods, culture, traditions and much more.
Instead, the lessons from emerging zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 must surely be the same as those we must learn to tackle climate breakdown and forest degradation. We need immediate, meaningful action on a global scale, to trust in the science, and to empower all people with the knowledge needed to make a difference and protect our climate.
Are you continuing to grow your networks, work with local organisations and communities to address the threat?
Yes, with Covid-19 showing no sign of abating, we’re committed to supporting our local partners as long as we are needed.
One of the best ways to build resilience in a crisis is to form networks, partnering with effective, informed organisations to utilise essential local knowledge and take meaningful action where it matters most. Forming these relationships will ensure we can find the best ways to help people feed their families, reduce pressure on their forest and plan for the future through times of Covid-19 or not.
“The communities that we have here in Asháninka are more vulnerable. Sometimes even a common cold to us can get complicated [for them].”
– Josue Morales Agüero, Asháninka Local Coordinator.
In Summer 2020, Cool Earth joined forces with Somos Amazonía, Plataforma de Pueblos amazónicos en la pandemia de Covid-19 and Conectar para actuar to support the indigenous communities of the Awajún, Wampis and Mestizo in Peru. Funding was provided to buy masks, protective suits, oxygen and vital medications, helping to control the spread of Covid-19. To address food shortages and improve overall nutrition, Cool Earth also coordinated with local leaders to provide short-cycle seeds and training.
Cool Earth’s team on the ground in Papua New Guinea has built strong relationships with local people over the years. These established relationships mean that in a crisis, we can work with local people and organisations to help, and fast. With many people still without access to water storage facilities or adequate sanitation, Cool Earth funded a wash block at the local hospital, alongside the local health authority as well as 60 handwashing stations across local villages. Not only will this help people access basic hygiene, it will also build long-term economic resilience. Local labourers were employed to build the wash block after accessing training by local organisation ATprojects and can now help other communities build toilets and showers, able to withstand extreme weather when the seasons change.
In Cameroon, as one of the few organisations in the region to try to reach all marginalised and vulnerable communities, Cool Earth’s local partner CCREAD has worked to ensure people have all the personal protective equipment, food and other basic necessities they need.
Cool Earth has complemented ongoing rainforest protection and restoration efforts since May by providing emergency support to Cameroon communities with CCREAD. In September the CCREAD team started to deliver their second round of Covid-19 aid to the Muenenguba communities and will continue to support local people through food distribution, financial relief and personal protective equipment. From face masks to hand sanitisers, it’s been vital to deliver essentials to local communities to help reduce the spread and increase resilience to the virus, particularly households headed by unemployed women, widows and girls who may be overlooked otherwise.
What will my donations be spent on now?
All donations made will help us to continue supporting, developing and growing our network of community-led conservation programmes around the world.
Whether that’s re-starting income-generating activities in Peru or continuing with aid relief in Cameroon, every decision is made alongside our local partners to increase resilience and overcome challenges that arise. We will also work to raise funds to tackle the knock-on effects that the virus will have on communities, such as food security issues and lack of access to key infrastructure, as well as the increasing pressure on forest.
Thanks to your backing, Cool Earth will work in 2021 to seek, develop, share and scale up the best approaches for forest protection. By opening up opportunities for people to earn a living, we can help communities increase local resilience, work with their forest and plan for the future.
How can I continue to help?
It’s thanks to our global network of supporters that we have been able to respond to calls for aid and continue developing the best ways to change lives and keep forest standing throughout this Covid-19 crisis.
By joining us with a small regular donation, you can help Cool Earth keep supporting local and indigenous communities around the world to earn a sustainable living and protect their rainforest.