Farming and Fishing in the Desert

Historically El Niño has brought heavy rains to the otherwise dry desert coasts of northern Peru, with devastating results for agriculture and infrastructure. Scientists suggest that climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of these events, generating concern about the long-term viability of current food systems. At the same time, we argue that these events also create new, and as yet unexplored, opportunities for food production. The project takes its cue from the past and present customs, and farming and fishing practices of traditionally marginalised, coastal communities. They have forged livelihoods in challenging desert settings since pre-Columbian times. The international team comprises scientists, social scientists, historians and heritage scholars, working with Peruvian NGO, private sector and local government stakeholders, to explore the new fishing and farming opportunities created after El Niño events in order to find ways of making these food systems more sustainable in the longer term.

What We Do

Project Aim

To create an interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral research consortium, to understand the desert-El Niño-food system in Sechura, northern Peru, as a pathway towards enhancing its long-term resilience to future, short term, cyclical systemic environmental shocks.



Build an interdisciplinary platform to examine the desert-El Niño-food nexus.


Gather baseline information on El Niño, effects from historical data


Evaluate current fishing and farming systems to address food systems from an interdisciplinary perspective


Develop a blue print for production, processing and commercialization to make El Niño food-systems and livelihoods more sustainable

The Team

The team consists of researchers from Peru and the UK that belong to this organizations

  • Centro de Investigacióny Promoción del Campesinado (CIPCA)
  • Fundación para el Desarrollo Agrario (FDA)
  • Newcastle University
  • St Andrews University
  • United Oceans

Nina Laurie

Principal investigator of the project

St Andrews University

Rodolfo Rodriguez

Co-Investigator in charge of Climatology

Universidad de Piura

Andrew Henderson

Co-Investigator in charge of lake sediment analysis

Newcastle University

Tania Mendo

Post Doc researcher and lecturer in charge of fisheries

St Andrews University

Jaime Mendo

Co-Investigator in charge of fisheries

Fundacion para el Desarrollo Agrario

Rosa PrietoCentro de Investigacion y Promocion
del Campesinado (FDA)
Evelyn Inguil
Ivan Gomez
Fundacion para el Desarrollo Agrario
Amanda Valdez
Maria Carmen Palacios
Tadeo Maza
Nohelia Palacios
Isabela Zapata
Pavel Elias
Alexa Correa
Universidad De Piura
Marlon EcheUnited Oceans