Community vulnerability to the health effects of climate change among indigenous populations in the Peruvian Amazon: a case study from Panaillo and Nuevo Progreso

  • I. Hofmeijer
  • J. D. FordEmail author
  • L. Berrang-Ford
  • C. Zavaleta
  • C. Carcamo
  • E. Llanos
  • C. Carhuaz
  • V. Edge
  • S. Lwasa
  • D. Namanya
Original Article


This paper presents the results of an exploratory study working with two Amazonian communities in Peru to identify key climate-related health risks from the perspective of local residents, and characterize how these risks are experienced and managed. The work adopts a vulnerability-based approach and utilizes participatory methodologies to document and examine local perspectives on vulnerability and adaptive capacity. Thirty nine community members were engaged in participatory photography (photovoice), and rapid rural appraisal workshops were conducted with a total 40 participants. Contextual information was obtained from 34 semi-structured interviews with key informants and participant observation during fieldwork. Three climate-related health risks were identified by the communities as pressing issues (food insecurity, water insecurity, and vector-borne disease), all of which are climate-dependent and reported to be being affected by observed changes in climatic conditions. Sensitivity to these risks is high due to social and economic disadvantages which force people to live in suboptimal conditions, partake in dangerous activities, and engage in unhealthy behaviors. Traditional approaches to health and strong social networks are important in moderating health risks, but are placed under increasing stress in the context of local social and economic changes due to larger scale influences, including resource development, deforestation, and changing social relations.


Climate change Health Indigenous peoples Amazon Peru Shawi Shipibo Food security Water security Vector-borne disease Vulnerability Adaptation 



This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Ottawa, Canada. The researchers would like to acknowledge the hospitality of the communities of Panaillo and Nuevo Progreso. In addition, Esderas Silvano, Connie Fernandez, Segundo Pizango, and AIDESEP are especially thanked for their help in the early stages of fieldwork.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Hofmeijer
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. D. Ford
    • 1
    Email author
  • L. Berrang-Ford
    • 1
  • C. Zavaleta
    • 2
  • C. Carcamo
    • 2
  • E. Llanos
    • 2
  • C. Carhuaz
    • 2
  • V. Edge
    • 3
  • S. Lwasa
    • 4
  • D. Namanya
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Universidad Peruana Cayetano HerediaLimaPeru
  3. 3.Public Health Agency of CanadaGuelphCanada
  4. 4.Department of GeographyMakerere UniversityKampalaUganda
  5. 5.Ministry of HealthKampalaUganda

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