Peru is a populous South American nation, and both its cities and mountainous regions face a shortage of clean drinking water. Water.org, a non-profit organization that partners with financial institutions to expand access to clean water in Peru, has recently started addressing this issue.
To accomplish its goals, Water.org partners with seven financial institutions, a microfinance association and a federation that represents 11 national banks in Peru. Water.org’s profile of Peru states that 48% of the country’s population lacks access to a safely managed and reliable water source, and the organization aims to remedy that.
The Urban-Rural Divide in Access To Clean Water in Peru
Lima is the capital and urban epicenter of Peru. The mountainous southern region of Peru, popularly known sd “Deep Peru,” is culturally marginalized by Lima, and the quality of life is demonstrably worse in Deep Peru than in Lima. According to a 2021 news article by Americas Quarterly, life expectancy in the rural region of Huancavelica is seven years shorter than in Lima and infant mortality is nearly three times higher in rural Puno than in Lima.
Poverty and Lack of Access To Clean Water in Peru
Rural populations suffer disproportionately from a lack of access to clean water in Peru. A 2021 research study by Vasquéz et al. provides evidence that safe drinking water in Peru is concentrated in the wealthiest households.
At the time of a 2020 report by the Global Living Wage Coalition, the poverty rate in rural Peru was 46%, compared to about 15% in urban areas. A 2021 report by the Peru Support Group adds that extreme poverty affects 12.1% of the rural population while only 2.1% of the urban population suffers a similar fate.
Like poverty, lack of access to clean water in Peru is worse in its rural areas than in its cities. A 2021 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) finds that 4.7% of Peru’s urban population lacks access to public water supply networks, compared to 25.3% of the rural population.
The lack of access to clean water in Peru is not an issue that affects only rural areas, however. According to water.org’s profile of Peru, a sharply rising urban population has led to the development of urban slums where piped water is not accessible.
Misuse of Resources
The lack of clean water in Peru has less to do with scarcity and more to do with misuse. A 2012 Global Majority E-journal article states that despite being one of the world’s top 17 countries with the most freshwater available per capita, Peru is also one of the world’s top 30 countries suffering most from water stress and scarcity.
The Solution: Water.org’s Water Loans
Recent efforts by Water.org and its partners have focused on expanding access to clean water in Peru. Using a program called WaterCredit, partners of Water.org have “disbursed 1.1 million water and sanitation loans over the past few years, providing access to clean water and sanitation to 4.2 million people.”
According to Water.org, WaterCredit brings small loans to those who need access to affordable financing in areas demonstrating a need for safe water and a readiness for solutions involving microfinance.
Water.org partners with more than 150 financial institutions worldwide, and these institutions establish water loans in their repertoire of services. Once a loan is repaid, it can be lent to another family lacking access to clean water.
Clean water is a necessity for living that specific populations of urban and rural areas of Peru struggle to attain. Efforts by organizations such as Water.org recognize where the issue exists and whom it affects. And with continued efforts, there is hope for a future where water is more accessible.
– Noel Teter