Peruvian Amazon Study Area


The Peruvian Amazon is highly diverse both ecologically and ethnically, home to approximately 65 different Indigenous groups. Because of this diversity, and following recommendations from the national Indigenous federation (AIDESEP) the project will work with two Indigenous groups: the Shipibo of the Ucayali region, and the Shawi of the Loreto region. The team has longstanding research experience with Indigenous communities from both regions. Regional Indigenous federations (ORAU, CORPI, FECONASHA, FECONAU) guided community selection. Federation representatives accompanied the research team on introductory visits to four communities, followed by in-depth field research at two communities: Panaillo (Shipibo) and Nuevo Progreso (Shawi).




Community selection in Peru went through four lines of approval:

1. The research project was presented and approved by the ethics committee at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.
2. AIDESEP, the national indigenous federation, was consulted for suggestions of ethnic groups to work with.
3. Research team met with regional indigenous federations (ORAU, CORPI, FECONAU, FECONACHA) to discuss project objectives and select communities.
4. Introductory community site visits presented the research program to community leaders and the “apus” (community chiefs) gave written consent for participation.

Panaillo (Shipibo)

Population:  ~250

Access:  5hrs by boat (December – June); 2hr by road (July – November) from Pucallpa

Description: Set on the banks of the Ucayali River, headwaters of the Amazon, the community is exposed to seasonal flooding in the rainy season from December-June. Established 50 years ago, the village was forced to move 10 years ago when the meandering of the Ucayali flooded the original site over. A road from Pucallpa built two years ago facilitates access to the village in the dry season.  Typical to Shipibo custom, subsistence depends on fishing and agriculture. Increased contact with urban areas has lead to the sale of agricultural produce and handicrafts, adopting the market economy. The community has both a primary and secondary school and a health post which was empty till mid-July 2010 when a technical nurse was appointed by the Ministry of Health.

Pilot research: IHACC research assistant Irene Hofmeijer was in Panaillo from July 1st – 30th 2010. Before beginning field work, research was approved by the ethics committee of Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia. PhotoVoice workshops were carried out with three groups: leaders (n=7), women (n=8), men (n=7). In addition, community members took part in risk ranking workshops (n=15), transect walks (n=4), and biographies (n=3). Results are summarized in the Peruvian Amazon fieldwork summary.

Puerto Consuelo (Shipibo)

Population:  ~300

Access:  3hrs by boat from Pucallpa

Description: The last village on an oxbow lake, Puerto Consuelo suffers from scarcity of water in the dry season. Access is only possible by river and complicated in the dry season when the river is too shallow for boats to enter.  Due to difficulty to access markets, the village is largely reliant on the barter system, trading with itinerary salesmen.  Livelihoods are based on agriculture, fishing, and hunting. The community has a primary and secondary school. The closest health post is 1hr by boat at Masisea.

Nuevo Progreso (Shawi)

Population:  ~350

Access:  1hr by motocar + 1hr by foot from Yurimaguas

Description: Until recently, Nuevo Progreso was a highly isolated community on the Armanayacu River. Infrastructure development in the Amazon brought a road to the village in May 2010, exposing the community to rapid changes. Many of the village streams have dried out and villagers have reported increased erosion of river banks since the road was built. Typically not a logging region, the area is beginning to experience increase rates of deforestation.

Pilot research: IHACC research assistant Cinthia Carhuas spent 2 weeks in the village in August 2010. PhotoVoice workshops were carried out with three groups: leaders (n=6), women (n=6), men (n=7). In addition, community members took part in risk ranking workshops (n=25), transect walks (n=4), and biographies (n=3). Results are summarized in thePeruvian Amazon fieldwork summary.

Puerto Porvenir (Shawi)

Population:  ~500

Access:  1hr motocar + 5hr by foot

Description: Extremely isolated, Puerto Porvenir is the last community on a tributary of the Armanayacu River. The community maintains traditional Shawi customs, subsisting from slash and burn agriculture, hunting, and fishing. Until now, access to urban centers has been limited but this is expected to change since road works are projected to end at this community.



Partner Organizations


AIDESEP Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Amazon
ORAU Regional organization of AIDESEP in Ucayali
DIRESA Ucayali Regional Health Department of Ucayali (Regional Government)
DESA Ucayali Environmental Health Department of Ucayali
DIRESA Loreto Regional Health Department of Loreto (Regional Government)
Red de Saludo Alto Amazonas Alto Amazonas province Health Network
CORPI-SL Regional Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of San Lorenzo
FECONACHA Federation of Native Communities of Chayahuitas
SENAMHI National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of Peru
NMRCD-Peru US Naval Medical Research Center Detachment in Peru
IIAP Peruvian Amazon Research Institute





  1. Sherman, M., Ford, J., Llanos-Cuentas, A., Valdivia, M.J., Bussalleu, A., IHACC Research Group. (2015). Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of community food systems in the Peruvian Amazon: a case study from Panaillo. Natural Hazards.
  2. Sherman, M., and Ford., J. (2013). Market engagement and food insecurity after a climatic hazard. Global Food Security, 2(3): 144-155.
  3. Sherman, M., Berrang-Ford, L., Ford, J., et al. (2012). Balancing Indigenous Principles and Institutional Research Guidelines for Informed Consent: A case study from the Peruvian Amazon. American Journal of Bioethics: Primary Research, 3(4): 1–16.
  4. Hofmeijer I, Ford JD, Berrang-Ford L, Zavaleta C, Carcamo C, Llanos E, Carhuaz C, Edge V, Lwasa S, and Namanya D (2012). Community vulnerability to the health effects of climate change among Indigenous populations in the Peruvian Amazon: A case study of from Panaillo and Nuevo Progreso. Mitigation and Adpatation Strategies for Global Change.



Reports and Resources