A Travellerspoint blog

Preparing for El Niño

A rain simulation on a sunny day


In my mind, when there's an impending natural disaster, that you know about in advance, preparing in any way you can seems reasonable. With this, and the fact that I said I would cover El Niño more thoroughly, in mind, it seems right to write about preparation for El Niño.

Despite all that is known about El Niño, the preparation in Huanchaco has been distinctly minimal (and although I don't know, I suspect it's been minimal in much of Peru).

Just two weeks ago they started clearing and strengthening the dry river, which was a product from the last big El Niño in 1997-8. Many houses remain without a full roof, as per the design rather than lack of funds. There even seem to be new construction projects that are hugely unlikely to be completed by the supposed start of serious rainfall in mid January.

In the shanty towns around Huanchaco, almost nothing has been done physically, although schools have finished a month early and children have been taught about the phenomenon in schools. This leads me to probably the single best bit of preparation I have witnessed.

Imagine the scene, we are teaching a second grade class and the teacher is sat at her desk cutting out arm and head holes in black sacks. 20 minutes before the end of the class, with no warning, the teacher tells everyone to pack up and put their bags on. My natural assumption was that we were moving on to a whole class craft activity.


It turns out the whole school were packing away their books and donning homemade ponchos and hats from black bin bags, filing into the playground in groups. When they were all ready, the headteacher proceeded to spray them all with water from a hose. This was no craft activity, no this was a rain simulation.

So if nothing else, one primary school near Huanchaco are ready for the El Niño rain. They think it's going to be super fun, will cool them down on a scorching day and that black bin back ponchos will protect them. Perhaps the headteacher just needed to work something out of her system...

Posted by Rebecca Heller 08:04 Archived in Peru Tagged rain school nino

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