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Peru facing rural Covid-19 disaster

A disaster is looming in Peru caused by Covid-19 as thousands return to their rural homes where there are limited resources and facilities, according to research carried out at the University of St Andrews.

When COVID-19 struck Peru in March 2020, thousands of Peruvians chose to leave large cities and return to their community origins in rural locations.

In Piura, northern Peru, the challenges faced by those returning and their host communities became a severe concern to researchers from the Centro de Investigación y Promoción del Campesinado (CIPCA) in Peru and the Centre for Amerindian and Latin American Studies (CAS) at the University of St Andrews who have been examining the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on livelihoods in the region since 2016.

Funded by a ‘Rapid Response’ grant from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC)’s Global ChallengesResearchFund(GCRF),theresearchpublishedtoday(October29)viatheCentrefor Amerindian and Latin American Studies(CAS) seeks to understand the emerging emergencies from the globalpandemic.

The government of Peru established a state of emergency in March 2020 and enforced mandatory social distancing, restricting all movement across the country. Hundreds of thousands of migrants across the country lost their employment and livelihoods as well as being left exposed to new circumstances of economic fragility and social vulnerability.

Despite the significance of the COVID-19 situation, little was known about returning rural migrants:theirmigratorytrajectories,theircurrentsituation,andtheirshort-andmedium-term plans.

Professor Nina Laurie, Professor of Human Geography at the University of St Andrews, said: “We are very grateful to the SFC GCRF for funding this original ‘first of its kind’ work, carried out in collaboration with our Peruvian colleagues at CIPCA under very challenging circumstances.

“The pandemic has primarily displaced young families in rural Peru, heightened the vulnerability of women and that many migrants have relied on their families and social networks for travelling to their origin communities”.

“The plight of migrants in Peru face deep uncertainty in the near future, combined with the lack of resources from local and national authorities as well as the recovery from COVID-19. Migrants who return to their places of origin, whether it be for a short time or to stay, are experiencing a situation created by uncertainty and vulnerability.”

Ana Gutierrez Garza, Director of the Centre for Amerindian and Latin American Studies(CAS) at the University of St Andrews, said: “This research brings to light the obstacles that people in Peru had to overcome in order to survive during COVID-19 times. The case is an illustration oftheconsequencesthatstructuralconditionsofinequalitycauseinthispartoftheworldand people’s daily efforts to surmount them. More importantly, the case – though unique – reflects widerglobalproblemsthatspeakofthewaysinwhichstatesallovertheworldhaveputaside their obligation to care and safeguard the well-being ofpeople.”


Notes for editors:

 A comprehensive report and policy recommendations in English will be published on 29 October 2020 via the Centre for Amerindian and Latin American Studies (CAS) website. Founded in 1969 as the Centre for Latin American Linguistic Studies, CAS is based within the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews and conducts research within Latin America, the Caribbean and Amerindian societies.

Full report here report peru

Press Release: Peru and Covid-19. CIPCA/CAS