An unforgettable event: A qualitative study of the 1997-98 El Niño in northern Peru

Angela M. Bayer, Heather E. Danysh, Mijail Garvich, Guillermo Gonzálvez, William Checkley, María Álvarez, Robert H. Gilman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


During the 1997-98 El Niño, Tumbes, Peru received 16 times the annual average rainfall. This study explores how Tumbes residents perceived the impact of the El Niño event on basic necessities, transport, health care, jobs and migration. Forty-five individuals from five rural communities, some of which were isolated from the rest of Tumbes during the event, participated in five focus groups; six of these individuals constructed nutrition diaries. When asked about events in the past 20 years, participants identified the 1997-98 El Niño as a major negative event. The El Niño disaster situation induced a decrease in access to transport and health care and the rise in infectious diseases was swiftly contained. Residents needed more time to rebuild housing; recover agriculture, livestock and income stability; and return to eating sufficient animal protein. Although large-scale assistance minimized effects of the disaster, residents needed more support. Residents' perspectives on their risk of flooding should be considered in generating effective assistance policies and programmes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-374
Number of pages24
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Climate change
  • El Niño
  • Floods
  • Peru
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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