Three Communities, One River


Three Communities, One River

The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most biodiverse and environmentally important ecosystems in the world. It is also home to 34 million people including 51 Indigenous groups. People in the jungle have adapted their architecture, agriculture, and community structures to live in and along the river floodplains for thousands of years.

Rapid jungle-to-city migration has caused significant urban development struggles in the jungle city of Iquitos. Limited space draws migrants to the familiar floodplains at the edges of the city. Building on the traditional knowledge of their ancestors, an estimated 120,000 people live within the dynamic urban river floodplain that rises up to 5 meters (16 feet).

This project examines life and landscape within two communities on the floodplain - Claverito (a primarily floating community) and Bajo Belén (a primarily stilted community) - and a government-sponsored relocation community in the highlands - Nuevo Belén.

This site is based on an exhibit presented in Iquitos in August 2022. We offer an interdisciplinary arts and sciences "One Health" perspective through collaboration among researchers from Peru and the United States and 166 residents across 136 households across the three communities: Claverito, Bajo Belen, and Nuevo Belen. Through a survey, drawings, and a pilot community science program, residents shared their views on their physical and social community, mental well-being, connections to nature, and knowledge of plants and animals. Biologists and community members documented plants, birds, butterflies, amphibians, and reptiles to understand urban biodiversity and ecological health alongside community health.

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Images from the opening day of the exhibit at Museo Amazónico in Iquitos, August, 2022


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Images Copyright © Gemina Garland-Lewis 2022. All Rights Reserved.