The story of farmers and rural communities is one of resilience.
Their lives have always been affected by factors largely out of their control. A changing climate brings floods that devastate homes and crops. Droughts destroy farms and increase hunger.
And now there is an unfamiliar challenge to contend with too – the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a challenge that amplifies the vulnerabilities rural communities already face.
But the impacts of COVID-19 on isolated, rural communities can be minimized – and it starts with the power of knowledge.
Social distancing. Mask use. Hand washing. These are just some of the tools we can use to stay safe in the face of COVID-19. However, in isolated parts of the world where there is often little access to traditional media, spreading the word about these tools can be difficult.
In such rural areas, FAO works alongside NGOs and community leaders to utilize local knowledge sharing networks to raise awareness on how people – food producers in particular – can protect themselves from COVID-19 while maintaining their livelihoods.
Harnessing car loudspeakers, local radio broadcasts and more, FAO and partners are helping raise awareness and counter the spread of false information.
See how FAO used digital media and distanced messaging to promote COVID-19 mitigation measures and combat misinformation in Pakistan.
Pastoralists travel great distances to find water and pastures for their animals as well as to access markets. This means that they are among those most affected by movement control measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, pastoralist communities all over the world have been confronted by their own unique set of challenges:
Local lockdowns and curbs on movement mean they cannot access traditional grazing lands.
Mobility restrictions cause livestock markets to operate under capacity.
Containment measures block access to livestock fodder and veterinary services.
Pastoralists’ mobile lifestyles make it particularly difficult for life-saving messages around COVID-19 to reach them. This means that several techniques must be implemented to ensure they receive the support and knowledge needed.
Sharing news and information via radio in local languages, arranging onsite awareness sessions for pastoralist communities to exchange information on protective measures and collect personal protective equipment, and distributing hygiene kits along traditional pastoralist routes are some of the measures FAO adopted.
Take an in-depth look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Kuchi pastoralists in Afghanistan. This publication outlines how Kuchi pastoralists can safely access grazing lands and markets during pandemic lockdowns.
Around the world, grassroot groups in rural communities are playing an invaluable role in sharing COVID-19 information and knowledge.
Dimitra Clubs– voluntary groups that meet to resolve local issues – is one such example. Whether going door-to-door in villages to raise awareness about protection measures, installing hand-washing basins, or sewing masks, Dimitra Club members have helped equip isolated villages with vital knowledge and tools.
Knowledge and skills acquired from Farmer Field Schools have allowed isolated families to continue to earn a livelihood. During lockdown periods when unable to meet face-to-face, members of Farmer Field Schools shared knowledge and information online. By selling their produce, these families, despite being isolated, can maintain their livelihoods.
See more about the power of community groupsSee how women in Pakistan utilized lessons learned at a Farmer Field School
With every urgent and ambitious action we take to address the pandemic and its growing impacts, we have an opportunity to rebuild and improve food systems and livelihoods, all while breaking the vicious cycles that communities have struggled against for too long.
We are seeing how knowledge can help save lives during this COVID-19 pandemic. Now discover how FAO is contributing to building the resilience of communities around the world in the face of any future shock or stress through its Office of Emergencies (OER) and discover the knowledge generated through its knowledge sharing platform, KORE.