Peru has recently experienced the worst floods in decades. The Andean country’s arid desert coast was inundated by torrential rains battering Peru between December and March, costing 107 lives and leaving more than 170, 000 people homeless so far.
Most rivers have overflowed along the 2500 kilometre Pacific coast, and 24 of the country’s 25 regions were severely affected.
“Peruvian rivers are currently estimated to be discharging their highest volume of water in more than 200 years,” said Boris Teunis, an EU Civil Protection expert in hydrology, quoting weather forecasts based on hydrological models developed by the European Commission’s Global Flood Awareness System. This severe disruption of usual weather patterns is caused by El Niño, the abnormal warming of Pacific Ocean waters which creates storms and subsequent flooding.
The EU has disbursed €1 million in emergency humanitarian aid, deployed civil protection experts and facilitated European donations in kind, including life-saving water pumps from Spain and France to assist those most affected in Peru’s northern provinces.
Thanks to an initial contribution of €250 000 from the European Commission, the EU humanitarian partner CARE was able to dispense emergency kits. In addition to handing out necessity items (such as buckets and water purification tablets), the EU’s humanitarian partners on the ground are supporting local authorities in assessing damages and risks to the population. Beyond the immediate needs of victims they fear the onset of a health crisis as stagnating waters create an ideal breeding ground for the vectors of zika, malaria, dengue and yellow fever.