Blogpost | 30 March 2017

Landslides and floods in Peru – Huaraz is spared of the worst

Blog post by Noah Walker-Crawford, March 2017

+++ Due to heavy rainfall the risks in Huaraz increase, but no considerable damage has happened yet. +++

Hundreds of thousands of people in Peru are hit by floods and landslides which are the result of unusually strong rainfall. Poorer populations in particular are confronted with the consequences of those rainfalls. Many people lost their homes and are now facing an unsecure future.

Although heavy damage did not occur yet in the Andean town of Huaraz, its citizens already experience many difficulties. All the connecting roads to Lima are blocked, some goods are sparse in the town, the telephone network crashed several times and the internet connection is very unstable. The city dwellers worry about the Palcacocha glacier lake above the town. In case of an ice or landslide into the glacier lake, a flood wave directly threatens 50,000 people, including Saúl Luciano Lliuya and his family. The local authorities are calling on people to remain calm but due to heavy snowfall the occurrence of avalanches near the glacier lake has already increased.

The past severe weather events have unsettled the citizens of Huaraz. People increasingly worry that global climate change will lead to more such catastrophes. One the one hand, the Peruvian authorities must act: There is a lack of resources for adaptation to climate change and for disaster protection in order to be able to adequately react to such extreme weather events. On the other hand, the international community did not take sufficient action so far in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and to cooperatively respond to the adverse impacts of climate change.

For Saúl Luciano Lliuya, his family and the people in Huaraz time is pressing. “These extreme weather events are an indication of dangerous climate change with which we are confronted here in Peru”, says Luciano Lliuya. His lawsuit which aims to oblige the climate change contributor RWE to contribute to safety measures at the glacier lake is currently being reviewed by the regional appellate court in Hamm. Luciana Lliuya states: “With this lawsuit we want to hold accountable those who contributed to climate change. Especially in light of the extreme weather events we are witnessing here in Peru, climate action is needed now.” 

Noah Walker-Crawford is a social anthropologist at the University of Manchester. He is currently conducting doctoral research on the social impacts of climate change in the Andes.


Noah Walker-Crawford