Lagoon dries up as drought grips Peru’s southern Andes

The absence of rain in part of the Andes occurs as a result of the La Niña phenomenon, present in 2022 for the third consecutive year, according to the United Nations’ meteorological agency. The drought is also hitting parts of Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina.

Yuri Escajadillo, a climatologist with Peru’s National Meteorology and Hydrology Service, said an index used to measure droughts qualified the region as “extremely dry”.

“It is a record value,” Escajadillo said.

In Cconchaccota, there is no drinking water, sewage or telephone service. People drink water they get from a nearby spring, though it sometimes dries up, too.

Residents say their appeals to local authorities for help went unanswered for more than two months.

So, Grisaldo Challanca, a young farmer, used his cell phone to record videos and prepare a report about the drought. He posted it on a Facebook page after he climbed to about 4,500 meters above sea level to get an internet connection.

The long-delayed response from the regional authorities arrived last week with the delivery of packages of fodder oats for the surviving sheep, cattle, alpacas and llamas.

“The animals are all bone,” said John Franklin Challanca, a 12-year-old shepherd, whose family has lost 50 sheep.

The Andes is one of the world’s most sensitive regions to climate migrations because of droughts, tropical storms and hurricanes, heavy rains and floods, according to the latest report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“Global warming has caused glacier loss in the Andes from 30 per cent to more than 50 per cent of their area since the 1980s. Glacier retreat, temperature increase and precipitation variability, together with land use changes, have affected ecosystems, water resources and livelihoods through landslides and flood disasters,” the report says, adding that summer rainfall appears to be decreasing in the southern Andes.


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