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Godzilla “El Niño” and Peruvian Children

“El Niño” is a natural phenomenon that occurs every three to five years, bringing torrential rains, flooding, landslides and drought. Climate change, warming of the oceans and the loss of the ozone layer increase the frequency and intensity of this phenomenon. It is believed that this year’s “El Niño” could be the worst ever recorded and for this reason has been named the Godzilla “El Niño”. With the consistently high and rising levels of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, the danger of flooding and landslides is ever increasing. In the last two years, dozens of people have lost their lives and hundreds have lost their homes as a result of these natural disasters. Central Bagua Grande and parts of Moyobamba, the capital of San Martin state, were flooded this year due to the effects of climate change, even without any influence from“El Niño” or Godzilla.

At the moment we are carrying out an environmental education campaign, visiting rural villages in Amazonas and San Martin, educating school children about the importance of primates and forests through games,
videos and storytelling. This year we are also including activities specifically focusing on the threat of the “El Niño” phenomenon. The majority of the villages that we plan to visit during this campaign have so far been un-reachable due to torrential rains that have made many roads impassable.

Although a state of emergency has been declared in both Amazonas and San Martin, the national campaign “Preparate Peru”(Prepare yourself Peru) has had little impact in rural areas. Local people know little about what this year’s weather will bring but schools are being closed for December as a precaution. However little more is being done to prepare rural cities and villages.

We must understand that the lives of thousands of rural Peruvian children are in very real danger. Highways are closed, harvests ruined, houses destroyed, water contaminated and areas without power mean a large loss of life and increase in future poverty.

It is common to hear people say that “El Niño” is a natural phenomenon, or an act of god, and that they just need to put up with it, but it is important to understand the magnitude of destruction that is about to occur and that it is a consequence of the continued destruction of ecosystems. It is the result of bad government policies that promote deforestation. It is time to demand that governments value life and  protect it; that they stop treating nature as a resource to be exploited; and their rural citizens are not treated like expendable people.

Photos: NPC

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