This report discusses that due to Peru’s geographical location, its rugged topography, and the Andes mountain range, the Peruvian population is exposed to numerous hazards related to recurring phenomena, such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, overflows, and mudflows. Furthermore, a large number of people are highly vulnerable to disaster risks, due to socio-economic and gender inequalities. According to figures from the Ministry of the Environment, 67 per cent of the disasters in Peru are related to climatic phenomena and 5.5 million Peruvians are exposed to very heavy rainfall.
Swift new climate change-related dynamics, such as retreating glaciers, changing rainy seasons, and pressure on local livelihoods, are also intensifying the risk and impacts of floods. Floods and droughts have both become more difficult to forecast and the lack of historical data further complicates matters. Moreover, structural socioeconomic and urban planning problems make the impacts of flooding more severe and frequent than before.
Longer and more intensive rainy seasons cause overflows and mudflows that seriously affect populations situated near rivers and streams. In addition, agricultural land is ruined, infrastructure and basic services are damaged, and transport is restricted due to road closures. This has economic implications at all levels.
Peru is affected by the El Niño phenomenon, which causes major flooding on the Peruvian coast. Although the coastal area represents only 10 per cent of the country’s land, it is home to 54 per cent of the population. There were 285,955 direct victims of the so-called ‘Niño Costero’ (Coastal Niño) in 2017, which affected 1.5 million people, causing the death of 162 people and damaging hundreds of thousands of homes.
Peru is struggling to recover, well aware that disaster will most likely strike again. Despite the tragedy caused by flooding, there is also an opportunity to identify the gaps, build resilience, and fundamentally reduce the risk of disasters in the country.