Building resilience to flooding

This is story is from our Annual Report 2016-17

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In March 2017 Peru suffered devastating floods and mudslides. More than 800 towns and cities declared a state of emergency. Practical Action’s teams working on flood resilience in Lima and the northern town of Piura reported significant damage to water and sanitation systems and major crop losses. Roads and bridges collapsed and stagnant water increased the risk of cholera and dengue fever.

Nicanor Nuñez is 82 years old, and is helping to make a difference to his community in Chosica,  a city about 20 kilometers east of Lima. It’s surrounded by hills of loose soil and rocks, highly vulnerable to landslides.

On the roof of Nicanor's house is a camera and other equipment that is part of the area’s early warning system monitoring the river Rímac, taking photos every two to five minutes. 

These photos are sent to the local government’s data monitoring centre, along with information from five electronic sensors covering four communities in the area. The equipment measures river levels and soil saturation. This information can give precious minutes warning of a landslide or flood. Leaders like Nicanor alert their neighbours and within minutes evacuation can start along prepared routes.

In March landslides and flooding in Chosica were severe but, thanks to the early warning systems, Chosica’s residents were prepared and able to get out in time.

Nicanor is proud of this work. “Practical Action arrived here two years ago,” he says. “They gave us guidance on how to react if a disaster occurs and on how to prepare ourselves for a landslide or flooding. Since then many
things have changed.”

Because of the early warning system on the rooftop of his house, the important job of warning his neighbours falls
to him. He’s a leader in the fight against a potentially devastating enemy, and is proud of it.

This work forms part of our global flood resilience programme funded by the Zurich Foundation.

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