The COVID-19 pandemic endangers Africa’s indigenous Pygmy People

COVID-19 has  apparently had an overall surprisingly low prevalence and mortality in Africa. In a FORUM contribution to EcoHealth, the journal of the EcoHealth Alliance, we argue that Pygmy communities may be silently ravaged by the disease yet there is a lack of policies or initiatives to monitor their health systematically throughout the Congo Basin. Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on these forest-dependent peoples has never been more important to develop ways of helping them.

  • Fa, Julia E., Nasi, R., Funk, S.M., 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic endangers Africa´s indigenous Pygmy populations. EcoHealth in press.


Pygmy populations in Central Africa right now face a potential “double whammy” of the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the potential restriction of hunting and food provisioning to combat future zoonotic risks that will damage their food security and livelihoods. Any rational solution to these issues must consider the potential dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to take stock of the unprecedented pressures on African Pygmy populations and other Indigenous groups, and provide measured and adequate support for these most vulnerable people on Earth. Actions to reduce zoonotic risk by regulating wildlife hunting and consumption need to step away from draconian measures and steer closer to balancing human needs with animal welfare, food security, disease risk and traditional rights.