Flooding wreaks havoc over large parts of Peru
11 February 2017
Although this was not expected to be a ‘El Niño’ summer in Peru and, indeed, the counter-weather system of ‘La Niña’ was supposed to be on its way, the weather events of the past month have been as severe as any since the last big ‘El Niño’ in 1998. There has been flooding and landslides affecting many cities on the coast, including Lima. As usual, the worst affected have been those living in precarious homes close to ravines and water courses that are normally dry and only experience water flows in extreme conditions.
On February 10, homes in Callao were deemed in danger of collapse. The heavy rains in the northern city of Chiclayo have led to the collapse of several houses and nearly 35,000 people have been affected by weather conditions in Lambayeque region alone. The situation in the northern Peru is deemed critical with states of emergency now declared in Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad and Tumbes. Reflecting the proliferation of mosquitoes, 800 cases of dengue fever have been diagnosed, just in Piura.
More than 20 deaths had been reported in late January due to flooding in Huancavelica, Arequipa, Ica and Lima regions. Heavy rains have led to a proliferation of avalanches (huaycos) which destroy roads and other infrastructure, and divert water courses into built-up areas.
As always, the government and civil society organisations have scrambled to help those most in need, but it is evident is that no real contingency planning exists to tackle weather phenomena such as these which are likely to become more frequent and intense due to climate change.