Large-scale water transfer projects (LWTPs) transfer water to urban and agricultural areas. The Majes-Siguas canal, established in 1983, is an LWTP that created a thriving agricultural area through irrigating the Majes district in the Atacama Desert of Peru. Like other LWTP receiving basins, the project has attracted an influx of migrants who work on the farms. At the same time, the Majes LWTP is the district's only source of water and has an aging infrastructure which presents significant risks. While many studies critically analyze the consequences of LWTPs in water supply basins, few evaluate the resilience of communities living in LWTP receiving basins. In this study, we ask: what factors stifle or enable resilience of the agricultural community in the Majes-Siguas receiving basin? In 2019, we conducted semi-structured interviews with migrant and residents and water authorities, collected and reviewed historical documents, and conducted participant observations. Using this data, we analyze community resilience by identifying perceived risks, stressors, and vulnerabilities among and between groups of agricultural actors, their adaptations, and their perceptions of water management organizations’ responses. Results show that a single source of water, differential vulnerabilities between groups of agricultural actors, and limited organizational responsiveness stifled community resilience, while communal pooling and self-organization enabled community resilience. Attention to increasing inclusion of migrants in water management decision-making, addressing differential water and land rights, and cultivating space for migrant self-organization could enable the agricultural community to be more resilient.
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