Engineering the Andes, Nationalizing Natural Disaster

Mark Carey

in In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780195396065
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199775682 | DOI:
 						Engineering the Andes, Nationalizing Natural Disaster

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In 1950, the Los Cedros glacial lake outburst flood destroyed the nearly constructed Cañón del Pato hydroelectric facility. President Manuel Odría responded by creating the Control Commission of Cordillera Blanca Lakes to prevent additional floods caused by climate change and glacier retreat in the Andes. The Lakes Commission achieved marked success in glacier science and glacial lake engineering during the 1950s and 60s, including a glacial lake inventory, lake classification system, and engineering projects to drain and dam glacial lakes. Government support for the Lakes Commission was often motivated by and facilitated coast-focused economic development initiatives through the Peruvian Santa Corporation rather than humanitarian concerns for vulnerable populations. These hazard mitigation programs ultimately made the state responsible for disaster prevention, and in the process facilitated nation building and gave the government more control over Andean space and resources, in part with local support because residents wanted to prevent floods.

Keywords: Cañón del Pato; climate change; Control Commission of Cordillera Blanca Lakes; glacial lake engineering; glacial lake outburst flood; glacier retreat; glacier science; hazard mitigation; nation building; Peruvian Santa Corporation

Chapter.  11615 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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