In a recent report, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples warns that COVID-19 is threatening Indigenous peoples’ right to food.

The newly-appointed Special Rapporteur, José Francisco Calí Tzay, spent his first few months in office consulting more than 150 international Indigenous groups to understand how COVID-19 is impacting their communities. The resulting Report on the Impact of COVID-19 on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples uncovers a variety of human rights violations Indigenous peoples have faced as states responded to the pandemic.

Traditional food systems form the backbone of many Indigenous peoples’ physical, cultural, and spiritual health, according to a study by the Assembly of First Nations.

“Food cannot be separated from territory, land, rights, and security,” Jeffrey Campbell, former Manager of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Forest and Farm Facility, tells Food Tank. “Indigenous food systems have a lot to offer and they are under threat.”

Before COVID-19, Indigenous peoples already faced high rates of food insecurity. In Canada, nearly one in two First Nations people reported food insecurity in 2019. Similarly, Indigenous peoples in Guatemala face malnutrition at twice the rate of non-Indigenous peoples. And for a number of Amazonian tribes across Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil, unequal access to digital technology and state support magnifies food insecurity in Native communities.

The Special Rapporteur finds that the pandemic is exacerbating these challenges and further threatens access to traditional foods and methods of food harvesting and preparation.

Read the full article about Indigenous food security by Katell Ane at Food Tank.