The communities living in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon are experiencing severe hardship as a result of the COVID-19 context. Medical facilities have collapsed, and basic-need supplies are scarce, resulting in a ‘medical desert’. Travelling to a hospital can take several hours or even days by boat, and so the patient often dies on the way. Many of the few surviving Amazon hospitals have barricaded their doors to stop the overwhelming influx of infected locals, leaving many patients in the streets to face their fate. Thus, those that survive the journey usually discover that there is no availability of medical personnel, nevermind oxygen, ventilators or ICU beds - and that now they are stranded far from home, and very ill. Thus, it is not surprising that the highest death rates in both Brazil and Peru are in the Amazon region. Meanwhile, governments of both countries have been unable to provide the necessary aid for Amazon people, unwilling to regulate prices of basic medicine such as paracetamol and unwilling to speed up bureaucratic processes even to make health information available in locally intelligible ways.
Therefore, we are raising funds to prevent more people from catching the virus.
We have four core projects:
Posters and leaflets: to provide high-quality, locally intelligible information about the symptoms and prevention measures against Covid. In Peru, these leaflets will alsp include information about how to move towards better self-sustenance, nutrition, and reduced dependence on handouts through fast-growing veg-garden solutions.
Masks: The government hasn’t provided any Personal Protective Equipment to most local communities, so our colleagues on the ground have employed local seamstresses to manufacture reusable face masks. By making and distributing masks locally not only can we offer people protection, but we can also create jobs for 15 seamstresses who would otherwise be unemployed due to the pandemic.
Sanitary packs and Food parcels: Both packs contain essential items to support families to get through the pandemic without having to go into a nearby town. By setting up a local distribution network, the sanitary packs, food parcels, and masks will be distributed to all the inhabitants. This will reduce the amount of travel these rural communities would have to do to purchase these items and allow them to self-isolate. As we all know, the less travel the less exposure to the virus!Sanitary packs include personal care items such as soap, hand sanitizer, toilet roll, and toothpaste and toothbrush. Food parcels provide a selection of locally-relevant non-perishable food items such as beans, rice, and cooking oil. In Peru, the food and sanitary pack is one pack.
Delievering the goods:
We have partnered with the Brazilian Agency for Environmental Reserves (ICMBIO) to deliver the good to the communities in both the Tapajós National Forest and the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve. We have been working with ICMBIO for several years and have already conducted small-scale delievery of masks (c. 2,000) and posters (c. 100) in both reserves, including to communities located so far that it takes a 2-day boat ride to reach them. In the case of the Amanã and the Mamirauá Reserves for Sustainable Development we have established a new partnership with the Amazonas State Agency for Environmental Reserves (DEMUC). We will use their current operational infrastructure to deliver the goods, including their boats as most communities are not accessible by land.
In Ucayali we are working with members of the Ucayali support network - made up of key members of society with contacts and capacity for enabling the purchase of goods in bulk (from farms and from warehouses) and for coordinating the delivery to villages and communities. We expect to coordinate getting to the borderlands with military humanitarian aid light aircrafts, and as with the Brazil team, we will need to send to other more remote communities via river. So as not to incur transport costs on funds raised - we are collaborating with local NGO's, the local and regional government agency of agriculture (and others) to get supplies where they are needed. Thankfully, there is a lot of willingness on the ground to collaborate in this transportation effort.