Jennifer Langill 2017 Field Report

2017 CLAG Field Study Award Report:

Jennifer Langill, Masters Student, Department of Geography and Planning and the School of the Environment, University of Toronto

Project: Gendered Experiences of Climate Change: Coping with High Flooding in the Peruvian Amazon, Department of Ucayali, Peru.

Riverine communities are particularly vulnerable to environmental hazards, such as extreme flooding or extended drought. Climate change research has indicated that these environmental shocks will only increase in the future, making this a critical time to better understand how riverine communities are impacted by these shocks and how they cope.

Building upon prior research in the Peruvian Amazon, my research seeks to answer the following questions, using the 2014 major flooding as an analog: 1. How were community members impacted and what were the axes of differentiation? 2. How did community members cope? 3. To what extent is gender determinant of coping mechanisms? 4. What role to social networks play in leveraging coping strategies?

Through both quantitative and qualitative methods, I explored possible axes of differentiation, such as males compared to females, elderly compared to youth, people who fish compared to people who do not fish, people born in the community compared to new migrants to the community, and differences in land holdings.

My research indicated differences in how the flood affected individuals and households, and in their approach to coping with the flood. For example, some participants had considerable losses, such as hectares of maize or fruit trees. Other households mentioned few to no impacts of the flood, and were grateful for the extra fish it brought.

In addition to many lines of difference that I explore in my research, some common themes emerged from the interviews and surveys. For example,  the floods were commonly associated with many illnesses, such as influenzas and fevers. Moreover, the loss of mobility from not being able to walk outside of the house can mean weeks or months at a time of sitting inside the house or in boats.

Please see the full report from more details.

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