Communication for disaster prevention culture: The Cusco-PATA Case (Cusco, Peru)

Juan Carlos Piscoya1,3, Palmira Reupo1, Sandra Villacorta2,3

1Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University, Lambayeque, Peru; 2Charles Darwin University, Casuarina, Darwin, Australia; 3Peruvian Section of International Association for Promoting Geoethics, Peru

This article presents an application of the communication strategy developed by the project Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics, Archeoseismology in Cusco (Cusco-PATA) in the village of Huasao, (Cusco, Peru). The project began in 2016 and involves a group of researchers from Peru, France and the United Kingdom which investigate the active and archaeo-seismological faults as well as their effects in Machu Picchu and other nearby Inca sites.

The communication strategy developed has explored methods to address the problems of growing countries like Peru, where authorities do not usually rely on scientific research for the formulation and execution of infrastructure projects. Likewise, the impact of high levels of misinformation on citizens due to the limited dissemination of scientific and technical content related to disaster prevention and geosciences.

The research was carried out throughout surveys and interviews with authorities, researchers and population. According to the results of this project, the Huasao community is almost exclusively dedicated to agriculture. There is a majority of male (51 %) over the women (49 %) and the 18-25 age group is a 24 % of the total, the same amount as the inhabitants with completed high school. More than 60% of the community access content on disaster prevention through radio, television and newspapers. The rest of them find out through talks and workshops organized by local and private entities, as well as through social networks. Regarding the knowledge of the stakeholders on geological hazards, a reduced amount of population has poor knowledge about the causes of these events in the study area, while a significant group of residents is completely unaware of them. It is important to note that around 30% of the Huasao population believes that disaster is looming and cannot be averted. This is room for improving the knowledge of geosciences. On the other hand, those who believe that prevention is effective are willing to participate in prevention exercises. For the latter, activities aimed at reinforcing prevention awareness should be designed.

This experience has helped to verify how a population with little knowledge acts in a crisis. Although it is necessary to carry out an analysis of the appropriate social media and actors in the scientific communication process, it is possible to conclude that dissemination and awareness are essential to avert the geological risks.

It has also been identified that communication plans for geoscientific research developed by researchers without communication skills do not give the same results as those monitored and executed with the support of professionals in communication sciences. Within this framework, the entities involved in disaster prevention projects should manage scientific communication and strengthen the culture of prevention, incorporating specialists in the media and communication.

Finally, it is recommended to design specific content that is tailored to meet the specific needs of the target population. For example, it is clear that in the case of Huasao, the high-risk areas due to the reactivation of the Pachatusan and Tambomachay faults needs to be widely disseminated in the population.

Keywords: Communication plan, Cusco – PATA, media management, disaster prevention culture, geological hazards, active geological fault.


PhD in Research, Modelling and Environmental Risk Analysis, MsC in Sustainable Use of Mineral Resources, BSc in Geological Engineering. 14 years of research experience at Peruvian Geological Survey. Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University (Australia). Member of International Association for Promoting Geoethics and International Geoscience Education Organization.

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