Management of disasters caused by meteorological events and climate change in the Peruvian Andes: MAREMEX Mantaro project


The Andean region is one of the most vulnerable to natural phenomena, and Peru in particular is vulnerable to earthquakes and extreme meteorological events (ISDR, 2009). Given the reality of climate change and socio-economic trends, it is likely that this vulnerability will increase in the future (IGP, 2005b). For this reason, while it is necessary to do more research to reduce uncertainties related to the potential effects of climate change, one efficient strategy is to take measures now to adapt to these effects and cope with recurring phenomena that are already affecting the population and its activities (IGP, 2005a).

Foto: Tomas Quine

Foto: © Tomas Quine

Peruvian people and their leaders are aware of the impacts of climate-related phenomena, but neither the general population nor the authorities has sufficient scientific and technical knowledge to be able to take action aimed at reducing their negative impact. One example is drought. Since several factors influence monthly rainfall in the Peruvian Andes (IGP, 2005b), droughts are difficult to predict. Even when recurrent and routinely predicted events like frosts occur, institutions working on these issues carry out few if any prevention activities. This is due in part to the lack of sufficient economic resources, but it is also because more technical knowledge is required in order to justify, plan, coordinate, and implement these actions.

The Mantaro river valley, located in the central Andean region of Peru, is one of the primary agricultural areas of the country and is home to the largest city in the Peruvian Andes, Huancayo.

The Junín region, where the valley is located, is one of Peru’s most advanced areas in terms of disaster and climate change management policies. This is true to a large extent because one of the first comprehensive studies on climate change vulnerability was conducted in the Mantaro river basin. The study was led by IGP with the collaboration of various local institutions between 2003 and 2005, as part of the program titled “Strengthening National Capacities to Manage the Impact of Climate Change and Air Pollution” (PROCLIM). The program led to the establishment of a technical group on climate change made up of representatives of a number of institutions in the region. Thanks to the active participation of the Junín regional government in the project and the work of the technical team, this region was one of the first in the country to be made aware of issues related to climate change. Currently, and in part because of the laws in effect, the Junín regional government needs to implement a disaster management system. However, its available staff and experience in this type of work is limited.

In this context, the Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP) has begun a project called “Management of Disasters Related to Extreme Climate Conditions (drought, frosts, and heavy rains) as a Way to Adapt to Climate Change in the Mantaro Valley” (MAREMEX Mantaro). The project, to be carried out in 2009-2011, is financed by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) of Canada and is being developed in close collaboration with Junín’s regional authorities and the provincial government of Concepción in the same valley. It is possible that it will be coordinated with district governments and farming communities as well.


The main goal of the project is to strengthen what is now a very weak capacity to handle and manage risks when high-impact extreme meteorological events like drought, frosts, and heavy rains occur in the region. In addition to the obvious immediate benefits this would bring to the region, the hope is that risk management will also decrease vulnerability and improve the capacity of the urban and rural population of the Mantaro valley to adapt both to extreme events and to possible climate-related changes.

The general goal will be achieved through four specific objectives:

  1. Strengthen and conduct more in-depth studies on the causes, occurrences, and impact of frost, drought, and heavy rains in the region.
  2. Identify the key actors involved and evaluate the current capacity of Mantaro valley residents to manage disaster risk caused by extreme climate-related phenomena.
  3. Develop a comprehensive plan to manage risks and adaptation strategies for facing frost, drought, and heavy rains in the Mantaro valley, with the participation of local authorities, regional governments, communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other relevant actors.
  4. Strengthen local and regional institutions and disseminate the results of the project to institutions, scientific organizations, and the general public by creating or strengthening capacity among local researchers and groups on issues related to adapting to climate change.

Work strategies

This is a research-action project since it includes a strong component of basic research on the physical aspects of extreme meteorological phenomena and its impact on human systems, but also aims to establish a disaster management system that brings together institutions, authorities, and the population. It is innovative in that it will work at the same time in both urban and rural environments that are vulnerable in different ways to the same events. From its inception, the project will also take gender and water resources into account as cross-cutting issues.

The project will draw on IGP’s experience in climate and risk management studies and its ties with institutions in the region in order to ensure inter-institutional and multi-disciplinary participation in the implementation of the project. The project will establish a strategic partnership that seeks the involvement of actors at every level: decision-makers (regional and local governments etc.) research-action institutions (public and private organizations, NGOs, etc.), and beneficiary communities (representatives of civil society). In this way it will seek to:

  • Create common working spaces among decision makers, researchers, and project beneficiaries.
  • Strengthen local, regional, and national capacity for participating in interdisciplinary research.
  • Adopt effective disaster management policies in the region.

The work strategy will also include the recovery of ancestral knowledge; the promotion of action-focused research through national university students doing thesis work; the use of gender-related issues as pillar for the development of a disaster management system; and the widespread dissemination of project results to the international scientific community, government institutions, and the end users of the system.

In this context, the main goal of this project is similar to that of the Hyogo Framework for Action, but applied to a limited region. It is hoped, however, that the results and experiences gained in the Mantaro valley will be applicable to other regions so that MAREMEX projects can be implemented throughout the country.


  • IGP, 2005a: Diagnóstico biofísico y socioeconómico de la cuenca del Mantaro en el contexto del cambio climático. Fondo Editorial CONAM. Lima.
  • IGP, 2005b: Vulnerabilidad actual y futura ante el cambio climático y medidas de adaptación en la cuenca del río Mantaro”. Fondo Editorial CONAM. Lima.
  • ISDR 2009: Reporte de Evaluación Global bianual sobre Reducción de Riesgo de Desastres.

For further information, please contact:
Geophysical Institute of Peru