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Impacts of Climate Change in the Andean Foothills of Chile: Economic and Cultural Vulnerability of Indigenous Mapuche Livelihoods


  • Elvis Parraguez-Vergara

    (Rural Development and Research Consultant)

  • Jonathan R. Barton

    (Instituto de Estudios Urbanos y Territoriales, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)

  • Gabriela Raposo-Quintana

    (Escuela of Geografía, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano)


The Mapuche communities have the highest levels of vulnerability in Chile in terms of income, basic needs, and access to services. Nevertheless, those living in the Andean foothills have historically been exposed to extreme weather. Examining three Andean municipalities of the Araucanía Region from 1990 to 2015, including climate data, interviews with mayors, and adaptation responses of the Chilean state, the article provides evidence of a changing climate and increased vulnerability. The results show trends in scarcity of water, reduction of agricultural production, colonization of plants and population shifts to higher altitudes, increase pressure on Andean ecosystems, and displacement of traditional Mapuche knowledge and practices. Based on these findings, the authors argue it is necessary to change the context in which Mapuche communities develop their livelihoods. This involves strengthening the knowledge of local actors in order to increase their resilience, with adaptation initiatives that emerge from the local context. It also requires enhanced capacity for municipal emergencies and suitable adaptations in road infrastructure, housing, communications, and agricultural planning. At the national level, this also requires recognition of the specific vulnerabilities of indigenous people.

Suggested Citation

  • Elvis Parraguez-Vergara & Jonathan R. Barton & Gabriela Raposo-Quintana, 2016. "Impacts of Climate Change in the Andean Foothills of Chile: Economic and Cultural Vulnerability of Indigenous Mapuche Livelihoods," Journal of Developing Societies, , vol. 32(4), pages 454-483, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jodeso:v:32:y:2016:i:4:p:454-483

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