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

Abstract

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.

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    Xomi (also known as Oje, latin name: Ficus insipida) is a medicinal tree with no commercial value

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Acknowledgments

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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Hofmeijer, I., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. et al. Community vulnerability to the health effects of climate change among indigenous populations in the Peruvian Amazon: a case study from Panaillo and Nuevo Progreso. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 18, 957–978 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-012-9402-6

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Keywords

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