Peru Floods Highlight Challenge of a Warming Planet Says UN

The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, said yesterday that current flood disaster in Peru highlights the challenges of a warming planet.

Heavy rainfall has been affecting the country since December 2016, causing floods and landslides. Local observers are calling the unusual climatic conditions “El Niño Costero” and are blaming the heavy rainfall on higher temperatures of the eastern Pacific Ocean waters.

Over the past few days the situation has deteriorated with the death toll now standing at 78 people since December 2016.

Flooded areas of Trujillo, Peru, March 2017. Photo: Presidencia Perú

Mr. Glasser extended his condolences to the people of Peru on the loss of life caused by the on-going deadly rains, floods and landslides which have led to the declaration of a state of emergency.

Mr. Glasser said: “Few countries were better prepared for the recent global El Niño than Peru so it is doubly concerning that the country has been overwhelmed by this occurrence of local El Niño-like conditions which have flipped the country from widespread drought to enormous flooding that has taken dozens of lives, affected over half a million people and left many homeless.

“This is a large scale singular event which needs to be viewed in the context of a warming planet where episodes of extreme weather variability are becoming more evident. Just a few months ago Peru was suffering from a drought and record wildfires and now, according to Peru’s National Emergency Operations Centre, 75 people have lost their lives in floods, many are missing, and over 625,000 people are affected including more than 70,000 who have lost their homes.

“If we are to succeed in preventing disasters like this and to reduce disaster losses then we need to ensure that there is a much broader understanding of the nature of disaster risk in society at large and this includes better understanding of the impacts of climate change and how it alters local weather patterns. Risk has to be addressed in local development plans.

“Multi-hazard early warning systems must include estimates of the potential impact of the emerging hazards and be tailored to local needs. This will be a key issue at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction which will be held in Mexico in May.”

Death Toll Rises to 78

According to national authorities, as of 22 March, 2017, the death toll reached 78 people. As many as 263 people have been reported injured, over 640,000 people affected, of which more than 100,000 people are in need of assistance.

Further heavy rain has been forecast over the coming days and in particular is likely to affect especially central, western and north-western areas of the country.

Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia Nacional (COEN) reported yesterday, 21 March, that 3 rivers – the Mantaro, Piura and Chira – remained on orange (mid-level) alert. Six other rivers were on yellow alert.

River level alerts in Peru, 21 March 2017. Image: COEN

European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) says that the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated on 19 March to facilitate the deployment of assistance to flood-affected areas of Peru.

ECHO added “An environmental expert and a liaison officer from the Emergency Response Coordination Centre are being deployed to the country. A technical expert from the DG ECHO regional office is already on site. In addition, the European Commission has mobilised €250 000 for emergency relief to communities affected by the floods.”

Map of Areas Affected by Floods Since December 2016

Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) of DG ECHO produced a map of the areas of Peru affected by floods, landslides and heavy rain since December 2016. See the full version of the map here.

Map of flooded areas of Peru, December 2016 to March 2017. Image: ECHO

Photos – President Kuczynski Monitors Floods in Trujillo

Perú President Kuczynski monitors flooded areas of Trujillo. Photo: Presidencia Perú

Flooded areas of Trujillo, Peru, March 2017. Photo: Presidencia Perú

One thought on “Peru Floods Highlight Challenge of a Warming Planet Says UN

  1. Climate change? This is el nino clearly. A really big one was called for last year (or so) but never came. I was here and the waters remained cold and there was no notable change. This month the water is warm as soup (it should be very cool from southern humboltd current) and we’re having floods as in years past during bad el nino periods.

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