science writer | photographer

francesco fiondella

Climate Frontlines : Chile

Modesto’s failed garden

Elqui River Valley, Chile. Modesto Geraldo a 61-​year-​old goatherder. Without adequate water, his garden has withered. “Government relief services come too slowly and too late. It’s like going to the hospital to get medicines only to come back and find that the patient has died,” says Modesto Geraldo, a 61-​year old goat herder. Taken May 52013.

Natalia and her ghosts

Gualliguaica, Chile. The original village of Gualliguaica, where Natalia Edith Codoceo Flores lived until the 1990 s, was flooded when the Puclaro Dam was built. But the long lasting drought has diminished the reservoir to 10 % (or less) of it’s capacity. The entire old village is now exposed, as the “reservoir” essentially receded back to the original bed of the Elqui. Taken April 292013.

Natalia Points

Gualliguaica, Chile. Natalia Edith Codoceo Flores points to the original village of Gualliguaica, where she lived until the 1990 s before it was flooded by the Puclaro Dam. A long lasting drought has diminished the reservoir to 10 % (or less) of it’s capacity. The entire old village is now exposed, as the “reservoir” essentially receded back to the original bed of the Elqui. Taken April 292013.

Modesto Geraldo, 61 

Elqui River Valley, Chile. A goat herder, Modesto Geraldo and his family represent one of the most drought-​vulnerable communities in Coquimbo. Taken May 12013.

Goats

La Serena, Chile. Goat herding is a traditional livelihood in the drylands of Coquimbo, Chile. These goats are pasturing very near the Elqui River. Taken May 12013.

Confused Goat

La Serena, Chile. Goat herding is a traditional livelihood in the drylands of Coquimbo, Chile. These goats are pasturing very near the Elqui River. Taken May 12013.

Goat herd

La Serena, Chile. Goat herding is a traditional livelihood in the drylands of Coquimbo, Chile. These goats are pasturing very near the Elqui River. Taken May 12013.

Rosa at her camp

La Serena, Chile. Rosa Elvida Rivera and her family herd hundreds of goats in Coquimbo. She tells us she lost nearly two hundred animals because of drought. May 12013.

Rosa

La Serena, Chile. Rosa Elvida Rivera and her family herd hundreds of goats in Coquimbo. She tells us she lost nearly two hundred animals because of drought. May 12013.

Fundo El Algarrobal

Elqui Valley, Chile. We spent the day in grape country. The Elqui Valley is home to dozens of vineyards, some small, mostly large scale operations such as the Fundo El Algorrobal, which has built its own reservoir to hedge against droughts. Taken May 22013.

Readying for Winter

Elqui Valley, Chile. If you live in the U.S. and you’re buying grapes at the supermarket right now, they most likely come from Chile. Most of the table grapes at Fundo Algorrobal have been harvested. Taken May 22013.

Drying Grapes

Elqui Valley, Chile. If you live in the U.S. and you’re buying grapes at the supermarket right now, they most likely come from Chile. Taken May 22013.

Dina Cifuentes

Elqui Valley Chile. Dina Cifuentes is a smallscale farmer who grows flower and vegetables. Taken May 32013.

Harvest

Down from the inner Elqui Valley, the agricultural production shifts to vegetables, flowers and other horticulture. Farms are smaller here, but still almost wholly reliant on irrigation. Taken May 32013.

Bruno Espinoza Moran

Elqui, Coquimbo Chile : General manager of the Fundo El Algarrobal vineyard in the Elqui Valley, which has a sophisticated strategy of water management and conservation, placing high value on the accuracy of time-​ahead information. Photo taken May 22013.

Elqui Valley at Dusk

The Elqui River valley in Coquimbo Chile is agriculturally very productive, but only in areas that receive irrigation, such as these vineyards. Taken May 12013.

Drought’s Ghosts

Gualliguaica, Chile. The original village of Gualliguaica, where Natalia Edith Codoceo Flores lived until the 1990 s, was flooded when the Puclaro Dam was built. But the long lasting drought has diminished the reservoir to 10 % (or less) of it’s capacity. The entire old village is now exposed, as the “reservoir” essentially receded back to the original bed of the Elqui. She stands inside an old door frame of a once-​submerged house. Taken April 292013.

Reservoir Gone

Gualliguaica, Chile. The Puclaro Reservoir is at around 10 % of it’s peak in 2009, indicated by lines on the mountain in the background. The dam is in the distance. Without the reservoir, farmers, mines and other water users have lost one of their key buffers against drought. Taken April 292013.

Climbing for a better signal

La Serena, Chile. Koen Verbist, a scientist at UNESCO, is my guide and co-​conspirator in Coquimbo. Verbist has been a key point of contact for our work in Elqui and has studied and published on the climate variability of the region with IRI scientists. Taken April 292013.

Flowers and Hands

Elqui Valley Chile. Dina Cifuentes is a smallscale farmer who grows flower and vegetables. Taken May 32013.

Last rays of sun

La Serena, Chile. Two boys dig for clams and other intertidal critters on the beach. Taken April 282013.

Modesto explains

Elqui River Valley, Chile. A goat herder, Modesto Geraldo and his family represent one of the most drought-​vulnerable communities in Coquimbo. Taken May 12013.

Dina and her flowers

Elqui Valley Chile. Dina Cifuentes is a smallscale farmer who grows flower and vegetables. Taken May 32013.

Dina cuts flowers

Elqui Valley Chile. Dina Cifuentes is a smallscale farmer who grows flower and vegetables. Taken May 32013.

La Serena Beach

A boy jumps over a stream that drains into the Pacific.