Exposure, impacts and coping with large flood events in western Amazonia: Lessons from the Ucayali River, Peru

Authors: Jennifer Langill*, McGill University, Christian Abizaid, University of Toronto, Oliver T. Coomes, McGill University, Yoshito Takasaki, University of Tokyo
Topics: Latin America, Hazards and Vulnerability, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Environmental hazard, flood vulnerability, coping and adaptation, Peruvian Amazon
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The Amazon basin is experiencing increasing extremes in the annual flood cycle, caused by global and regional environmental change. Research to date has documented the devastating effects of floods and droughts on households and individuals, and their responses and coping strategies. Most studies, however, focus on a small number of communities, often located close to each other, providing limited insight on how flooding is experienced in different parts of the basin. This paper examines differential exposure, coping and responses with the 2011 flood—the largest flood on record in over 20 years—along the Ucayali River, in Peru. We draw upon regression analyses of large-scale community and household survey data from the Peruvian Amazon Rural Livelihoods and Poverty Project (PARLAP) (n=1813 households across 110 communities) to examine the role of community and household level factors in shaping exposure, impacts and coping with the 2011 flood. We compare the results from the 2011 flood with in-depth qualitative data collected in two communities on the relative severity of different flood impacts. From our analyses, we identify the most common household impacts of and responses to flooding across the Ucayali River Basin, and yet how greatly these experiences vary between households. Extrapolating these findings within the broader Amazonian context, we discuss multi-scalar inequalities in flood exposure and access to coping mechanisms.

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