COVID-19 and Indigenous Women in East Africa

Emerging Impacts, Responses and Opportunities

Authored by: ‪Chimaraoke Izugbara‬ et al.

Categories: Global Public Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: COVID-19, Economic Participation, Economic Recovery, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2020
Citation: ‪Izugbara, Chimaraoke‬ et al. "COVID-19 and Indigenous Women in East Africa: Emerging Impacts, Responses and Opportunities." International Center for Research on Women. 2020.

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Executive Summary

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, calls have been made for continuing analyses of its impacts on and dynamics among the world’s most vulnerable groups and peoples. Indigenous peoples have been recognized as one of the groups at heightened risk for COVID-19 and its many adverse socio-economic and other impacts. This brief summarizes emerging evidence on the impact, responses and opportunities related to COVID-19 among Indigenous people in East Africa.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the East African Community (EAC) occurred in March 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya. Since then, the pandemic has continued to spread, albeit with much reduced case incidence, morbidity and mortality than were initially anticipated. Countries in the region responded to COVID-19 with curfews, closure of schools, lockdowns, mask mandates and strict measures on physical distancing. Currently, however, state engagement with the pandemic in East Africa can, at best, be described as uneven. While Rwanda continues to implement a reasonably robust public health response to the pandemic, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli declared the country “coronavirus-free” in June 2020, forestalling access to evidence on the pandemic in the country. In the meantime, the virus continues to spread in the region with major socioeconomic implications for different groups, including Indigenous peoples.