Mountain Partnership members react to COVID-19


The entire world is impacted by COVID-19, including communities in mountains. Mountain Partnership members are stepping up to cope with the pandemic in mountain areas and build solidarity from the world’s peaks.

The Centro de Investigação de Montanha (CIMO) in Portugal has devoted its time, efforts, resources and even its facilities to help the local community during this challenging time. CIMO is testing the elderly population of the Bragança District, Portugal, for COVID-19. This initiative is the result of an invitation from the national government to test residents in nursing homes in the district. The organization's main research building has been converted into a COVID-19 testing facility.

The Karnali Integrated Rural Development and Research Centre (KIRDARC) has mobilized to support mountain communities in Nepal. They are supporting vulnerable communities through education and awareness building, and distribution of essential goods to families and healthcare workers. They provided sanitation and hygiene kits to more than 6 000 families to promote preventative measures against COVID-19. More than 800 families were provided with support packages, and many community members were given protective masks. KIRDARC also benefitted workers at 14 healthcare facilities through the distribution of masks. The organization is also championing widespread awareness measures. KIRDARC provided more than 3 700 children and youth with age-specific health education to help prevent the spread of the virus in mountain communities.

In Lebanon, the Lebanon Mountain Trail Association is using social media to continue promoting and communicating the beauty of Lebanon’s mountains. The association is providing virtual tours through the eyes of the local community. The initiative, called “Thru-Stories”, highlights the people and places that make the Lebanon Mountain Trail a unique experience.

In Italy, Slow Food International issued a statement reading, “Even though Slow Food’s headquarters in the north of Italy had to go under complete lockdown, we continue working hard to support small-scale sustainable food producers and to encourage all citizens to choose good, clean and fair food.”

Slow Food Secretary-General Paolo Di Croce speaks from quarantine about how Slow Food’s work is important now more than ever in this video message.

Pradeep Mehta, Director of the Central Himalayan Institute for Nature and Applied Research (CHINAR), explains how mountain areas’ isolation have an advantage during this time in protecting populations. “There is definite fear among the people in the mountains about COVID-19, but mountains are safe as there is minimal movement of people from outside to the mountain areas. As the country has been lockdown for a month, there are less chances of the virus reaching the interior mountain areas,” he states. “I think another advantage that mountains have is less population density so there is by default social distancing among different families which is a big advantage for the mountains to combat COVID-19.”

Landry Riba, Secretary of State for European Affairs at Govern d’Andorra, has noticed significant changes in the mountains of Andorra as a result of social distancing. Riba says, “The restrictions on the movement of persons have greatly reduced the amount of people practicing sport near my place. So, there's a lack of noise of human origin and I really noticed that some wildlife species have quickly changed their behavior (in just a few days!) and are now less shy and are using roads, paths and other spaces normally used by human beings.”

Mountain Partnership members worldwide are addressing the challenges presented to mountain areas by the pandemic, but are also using this difficult time as an opportunity to supporting their communities and innovate ways to connect on a larger scale than ever before. 

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