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COVID-19 in African, Asian, and North American Drylands


This Working Group focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 in the drylands of three continents, and the local responses to the pandemic’s containment measures. Covering 40% of the earth, drylands feature low rainfall and sparse vegetation. Historically home to pastoralists used to deal with environmental variability, their inhabitants face increasing challenges from climate instability, political marginalization, inadequate school and health services, and land use conflicts. Our research relies exclusively on data and insights shared by collaborative researchers who live in the affected areas. Together, we explore and analyze dryland residents’ understandings and experiences of the unfolding crisis, and their visions for post-pandemic futures.

Working Group Leads

Joana Roque De Pinho, ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa and Angela Kronenburg García, University of Padua

Working Group Members

Juliana Agyei-Mensah, ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal
Brahim Mahamat Ali, Hadjer Hadid, Chad
Jamal Alkirnawi, A New Dawn in the Negev, Israel
Byambasuren Amarbat, Bulgan Province, Mongolia
Jonah Antonelli, A New Dawn in the Negev, Israel
Ts. Baasankhorloo, Khentai Province, Mongolia
Batbuyan Batjav, Center for Nomadic Pastoralism Studies, Mongolia
Iuliia Bautdinova, ISCTE- Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal
Andrea Behrends, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Amadou Kane Beye, Université de Dakar, Senegal & University of Bern, Switzerland
Carla Braga, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique
Dinah Kortom Chepkemoi, West Pokot County, Kenya
Aude Chesnais, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France
Nate Etsitty, Diné Nation, Arizona, USA
Sabdio Waro Galgallo, West Pokot County, Kenya
Eduard Gargallo, ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal
James Gambiza, Rhodes University, South Africa
Ganbat,Khentai Province, Mongolia
Mara J. Goldman,University of Colorado-Boulder, USA
Nurit Hashimshony-Yaffe, Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel
Jona Heita, University of Namibia, Namibia
Isaac Waanzi Hillary, Kampala, Uganda
Steve Nyamokee Kaisuma, Kunene Region, Namibia
Daniel Kishanto, Kajiado County, Kenya
Gabin Korbeogo, Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Burkina Faso
Linda Korir, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Zaira Tas Kronenburg, Leiden University College
Aboukar Mahamat, Maroua, Cameroon
Dobah Marsala, N’Djamena, Chad
Daniel Mayiani, Kajiado County, Kenya
Xoliswa Mjuleni, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa
Stephen Moiko, McGill University, Canada & NaBaRa Consult, Kenya
Lenaai ole Mowuo, Narok County, Kenya
Matinkoi ole Mowuo, Narok County, Kenya
Danicia Arlindo Munguambe, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique
Stanley ole Neboo, Narok County, Kenya
Primus Nurudong, Upper West Region, Ghana
Moumoumi Ouande, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Alizeta Ouédraogo, Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Burkina Faso & Université de Lyon, France
Racide Abdou Ouédraogo, Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Burkina Faso
Andrea Pase, University of Padua, Italy
Mariasole Pepa, University of Padua, Italy
Ahmed Abd ElWahid Abd ElRahim, Khartoum, Sudan
Cyrus Samimi, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Annemiek Pas Schrijver, Wageningen university, The Netherlands
Debra Seenoi, Narok County, Kenya
Troy Sternberg, University of Oxford, UK & ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal
Virginie Tallio, independent scholar, Paris, France
Mamus Litan Toima, Monduli District, Tanzania
Apin Yasin, Samburu County, Kenya
Blaise Ouango Zongo, Université Norbert Zongo, Koudougou, Burkina Faso

Working Group Resources


Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, University of Bayreuth, Germany. “Mobilities and Socialities: COVID-19 in the Drylands of Africa and Beyond” (Angela Kronenburg García and Joana Roque de Pinho, with Andrea Behrends, Cyrus Samimi and the members of the Covid-19 in African, Asian and North American Drylands Working Group).

CONVERGE Quick Response Grant, US National Science Foundation and CONVERGE; Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA. “Imagining and Building post-Covid-19 futures: Tourism, conservation and dryland communities in Africa” (Mara Goldman, with Joana Roque de Pinho, Angela Kronenburg García, Eduard Gargallo and Jona Heita).

CUPC Faculty Affiliate Seed Grant, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA. “Covid-19, Tourism, and Conservation in Dryland Africa: Changing Environments and Populations” (Mara Goldman, with Joana Roque de Pinho, Angela Kronenburg García, Eduard Gargallo and Jona Heita).

The Research & Public Policy Partnership Scheme, a partnership between the University of Oxford and the UK Civil Service Policy Profession (2009-RPPPS-553). “Designing COVID-19 policy for Mongolian pastoralist communities” (Troy Sternberg, with Batbuyan Batjav and Bolor-Erdene Battsengel).


Gargallo, E. and Heita, J. (2022) COVID-19, conservation and tourism in Namibia’s conservancies: socioeconomic and land-use impacts. In Musavengane, R. and Leonard, L. (eds.), Conservation, Land Conflicts and Sustainable Tourism in Southern Africa: Contemporary Issues and Approaches, pp: 150-164. Abingdon: Routledge.

Roque de Pinho, J., A. Kronenburg García, N. Hashimshony-Yaffe, T. Sternberg, A. Pase, S. ole Neboo, D. Seenoi, D. Mayiani, L. ole Mowuo, M. ole Mowuo, S. Wario, B. Batjav, B. Battsengel and E. Sainbayar (2023) Pastoralists under Covid-19 lockdown: Collaborative research on impacts and responses in Kenyan and Mongolian drylands. In: A. Kronenburg García, T. Haller, H. van Dijk, C. Samimi and J. Warner (eds.), Drylands Facing Change: Interventions, Investments and Identities, pp: 215–235. Abingdon: Routledge. DOI:

Goldman, M., Roque de Pinho, J., Kronenburg García, A., Gargallo, E., and Heita, J. (2022) Community-Based Conservation in the Drylands of East and Southern Africa During COVID-19. Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Grant Report Series, 341. Boulder, CO: Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado Boulder (Peer-reviewed). Available at:

Sternberg, T., Batjav, B., Battsengel, B. and Sainbayar, E. 2021.  Research Report: COVID-19 resilience in Mongolian pastoralist communities. Nomadic Peoples 25: 141–147. doi: 10.3197/np.2021.250117

Tallio, V. (2021). Uganda’s Social Policy Response to Covid-19: Rudimentary Relief Measures. (CRC 1342 Covid-19 Social Policy Response Series, 26). Bremen: Universität Bremen, SFB 1342 Globale Entwicklungsdynamiken von Sozialpolitik / CRC 1342 Global Dynamics of Social Policy.


Sternberg, T., Roque de Pinho, J. and Kronenburg García, A. 2021. Pastoralist-to-Pastoralist discussion on Covid-19, featuring pastoralists from Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia & Tanzania, International Virtual Forum. The Commission on Nomadic Peoples.  April 19, 2021.

Sternberg, Troy. 2021. Mongolian pastoralists face Covid-19 with traditional calm.

Completed Theses

Tas Kronenburg, Zaira. 2022. The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Achievement of the Management Goals of the Maputo National Park, Mozambique. Leiden University College, The Hague, The Netherlands


Covid-19 in Drylands Conference.  AA Lodge, Maasai Mara, Narok County, Kenya. October 10-13th, 2022. Funded by the University of Bayreuth, Germany.

Pastoralist to Pastoralist International Virtual Forum on Covid-19. April 19, 2021.
Organized by Troy Sternberg, with Joana Roque de Pinho and Angela Kronenburg García.
With co-researchers Stanley ole Neboo and Debra seenoi (Kenya), Mamus (Tanzania), Batbuyan (Mongolia), Mongolian co-researchers and Kyrgyz pastoralists.

Conference Panels

African Studies Association Annual Meeting 2020. November 2020.
Panel: Drylands facing Covid-19: Collaborative research on gendered impacts, electoral politics and local (mis)understandings of the pandemic in dryland Eastern Africa.
Convened by Virginie Tallio.
Chair: Angela Kronenburg García; Discussant: Han van Dijk.
Speakers: Joana Roque de Pinho, Nurit Hashimshony-Yaffe & Mara Goldman

The 5th Oxford Interdisciplinary Deserts Conference. 1-2 July 2021
Organized by Troy Sternberg.
Presenter: Joana Roque de Pinho, with presentation in roundtable on Covid-19: “A perfect (good) storm for pastoralists: grass, viruses, and lockdown measures in the Maasai Mara, Kenya”.

Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) Anthropology and Conservation Virtual Conference. 25-29 October 2021.
Panel on Covid-19 and Conservation, convened and chaired by Eduard Gargallo.
Discussant: Mara J. Goldman

Joana Roque de Pinho, Stanley ole Neboo and Debra Seenoi: “A perfect (good) storm for pastoralists: grass, viruses, and lockdown measures in the Maasai Mara, Kenya”.
Jona Heita and Eduard Gargallo: “Socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on communal conservancies in Namibia”

The 47th General Assembly of the Swiss Society for African Studies (SSAS). University of Bern, 26 November 2021.
Panel and Roundtable “Uncertain Perspectives and Changing Strategies towards a Pandemic: The Covid‐19 Crisis in Tales of the Everyday in Africa”. Speakers: Eduard Gargallo; Carla Braga.
Presentation by Eduard Gargallo, Jona Heita & Steve Kaisuma: “The Impact of Covid-19 on Conservation and Tourism in Namibia’s Conservancies”.

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