A platform for understanding how to respond to El Niño in the context of climate change in Sechura, Perú
Research in the Sechura desert region in northern Peru is suggesting that, for the desert dwelling communities, El Niño is also a ‘phenomenon of opportunities’. Rain in the desert creates large temporary lagoons that fill with fish lasting for several years and the fertile sediment fills rivers and lake floodplains, creating rich soils for planting. Desert-living communities have been managing this phenomenon since pre-Columbian times and yet very little is known about how they do it and what benefits can be obtained. This is an important agenda in the region as climate change is already negatively affecting shell-fish and sea fishing, which have been lucrative industries until recently.
The outputs from our research seek to influence how future longer-term strategies based on community responses can be made sustainable. A cross-sector parternship has been built with local government, third sector and educuation stakeholders. Additional funding has been secured to explore the historical and heritage dimensions of the desert-El Niño food system, which includes working closely with local schools. Findings will be important for gaining new insights into how the relationships between agriculture, continental and sea fishing opportunities are changing food systems globally in other El Niño influenced regions and arid settings.