women's rights in peruIn 2018, Peru ranked 87th on the gender inequality index with a score of 0.381. This indicates limited women’s rights in Peru. Between 2015 and 2020, the infant mortality rate was 68 for every 100,000 live births. At the same time, the teen birth rate was almost 57 per 1,000 girls. Women have a labor force participation rate of almost 15% lower than men. Around 57% of women have a postsecondary education, compared to 69% of men. Additionally, women in Peru hold only 28% of all parliament seats. Peru has high rates of sexual, physical and domestic violence against women. However, Indigenous women face additional struggles in Peru. Here are four facts about Indigenous women’s rights in Peru.

4 Facts About Indigenous Women’s Rights in Peru

  1. Language barrier: Overall, Indigenous women in Peru struggle with economic and political inequality. This results from elevated rates of poverty, inaccessible services and language barriers. Spanish is the official language in Peru. However, Indigenous women tend to speak languages such as Quechua and Aymara, which are also official languages. Quechua is the most common indigenous language in Peru, with over three million speakers in 2007. However, the language barrier makes it hard for Indigenous women to access education, healthcare and employment. In Peru, more than half of the people without access to healthcare speak Quechua, according to The World Bank.
  2. Land ownership and management: Many women in the Andes and historically Incan areas face higher rates of poverty and lower economic opportunity. As a result, they also experience limited land ownership and management. While Peru’s constitution takes a gender-neutral approach to women in leadership and decision making, the government does not implement this in reality. Thus, women struggle to find a voice in how community forests and their land are managed, even in cases of inheritance. For Indigenous women, these forests are an important part of their culture and their ancestry.
  3. Healthcare: Quechua-speaking women often face language barriers in seeking healthcare, as most healthcare workers speak Spanish. Men go to school and learn Spanish, while women stay at home and focus on building a family from a young age. Consequently, women do not receive proper sex education. They rely instead on traditional practices and men. This has led to high rates of teen pregnancy, rape and domestic violence. In one survey, 44% of Quechua women reported having been raped. Similarly, researchers indicate that almost one-third of girls ages 15 to 19 have at least one child.
  4. Forced sterilization: One of the most infamous violations of Indigenous women’s rights in Peru occurred under former president Alberto Fujimori. Between 1990 and 2000, the government forcibly sterilized close to 300,000 Indigenous women and a smaller number of men. This occurred under the cover of a poverty-reduction program. However, Indigenous women are the center of their village, where family and the ability to bear children are paramount. Thus, this program has long-lasting effects on Indigenous villages, future generations and their cultures. A disproportionate amount of older residents and a few younger people has also made villages financially unstable. Even though the government heard some cases, most made little progress. This deprives Indigenous women of justice.

COVID-19 and Women’s Rights in Peru

Between March and June of 2020, Peru went under lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As of October 2020, Peru has more than 670,000 cases and 29,000 deaths. However, the pandemic has especially affected women’s rights in Peru. In the midst of the lockdowns, violence against women increased. More than 1,000 women and girls have gone missing, and their families fear them dead. Importantly, gender violence in Peru disproportionately affects Indigenous women. In Cuzco, 47% of women report having been victims of sexual violence. Experts suggest that 70% have experienced physical violence.

Indigenous women are also more vulnerable to COVID-19 itself. In secluded villages, the terrain and the isolated nature pose challenges for transportation to life-saving medical care. Further, limited economic opportunity and a lack of channels of communications put Indigenous people at risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. Language barriers women face also make it more difficult to promote Indigenous women’s rights in Peru during the pandemic.

Solutions and Initiatives

Thankfully, many organizations are promoting women’s rights in Peru. For example, The Quipu Project serves an important role in promoting solidarity and action in the aftermath of the forced sterilizations. A documentary project produced by Chaka Studios, it tells the stories of women who underwent forced sterilizations to bring visibility to the issue and promote solidarity. The documentary gets its name from quipu, a knotted cord Andean women use to communicate.

Another organization that fights for women’s rights in Peru is DEMUS. DEMUS fights for women’s autonomy and protection against violence. Among its accomplishments, the group helped to reopen the cases of forced sterilization. It also made gender discrimination recognized in some legal interpretations and started the legal advisory service at the Lima Women’s Police Station. Additionally, DEMUS established the first phone line for women facing violence in the country.

Ni Una Menos also calls for an end to violence and femicide in Peru against native women. On Aug. 13, 2016 an estimated 200,000-500,000 people marched in Lima for the largest social demonstration in the country’s history. Finally, Awamaki is another nonprofit organization working for women’s rights in Peru. It helps women increase economic opportunities through business. By assisting and educating artisans, it also expands economic opportunity for women in this line of work.

Any work that seeks to promote women’s rights in Peru must consider Indigenous women’s particular needs, like these organizations do. The government and other organizations should empower these women with culturally sensitive methods. In this regard, these nonprofits may serve as an example for future work supporting women’s rights in Peru.

Bryan Boggiano
Photo: Flickr

National Coffee Action PlanPeru is the ninth largest global producer of coffee and the world’s third-largest producer of organic coffee. However, inefficient farming techniques and unsustainable agricultural practices have posed serious threats to the coffee sector. In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the National Coffee Council and the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the Green Commodities Programme of the U.N. launched the National Coffee Action Plan in 2018 in order to increase coffee exports, improve crop quality and enhance sustainability.

Poverty in Peru

From 2002 to 2013, Peru was one of the most rapidly developing countries in Latin America with an average annual GDP growth of 6.1%. The number of individuals living below their national poverty line also decreased during this time, with a report of only 2.6% of the population living on less than $1.90 per day in 2018.

Though significant strides have been made, human development indicators remain low in rural regions. In 2001, 50% of the rural population lived in extreme poverty, but that number plummeted to 10% in 2015. Child malnutrition and mortality rates are 100% higher in rural regions and educational performance is lower than in urban areas. Lastly, the median income in urban regions was 40% greater than that of rural regions in 2015.

Peruvian Coffee Sector

The Peruvian coffee sector creates 885,000 jobs in isolated areas that might otherwise be vulnerable to extreme poverty. According to the Green Commodities Programme, it is estimated that there are 2 million Peruvians involved in the coffee production chain. In addition, 40% of agricultural land is utilized for coffee crops. Additionally, coffee profits account for 25% of Peru’s agricultural income and created $711 million of the export revenue in 2018.

However, this sector poses certain challenges, particularly for small-scale farmers who manage one to five hectares, (two to ten football fields) and comprise 85% of total farmers. Financially, farmers often face difficulties establishing credit and responding to market price fluctuations. They also struggle to afford the requisite fungicides, pesticides and fertilizers that prevent crop destruction. Replacing diseased or aged plants, a strategy to maintain efficiency, costs approximately USD $3,000 per hectare and results in most farmers prolonging the process 10 to 20 years. Environmentally, coffee crops are subject to insects, plant diseases, changing weather conditions and effects of climate change.

Additionally, lack of technical assistance concerning knowledge for best practices results in lower productivity per hectare. This decreased production rate, along with financial and environmental uncertainties, leads to expansion into new regions. It drives deforestation and environmental degradation.

The National Coffee Action Plan 2018-2030

The National Coffee Action Plan incorporates a variety of stakeholders from the public and private sectors in order to combat inefficient practices, deforestation and small-scale farmer poverty. Beginning with the analysis of stakeholder operations and a production baseline in 2016, the dialogue was then established with the National Coffee Platform between 50 organizations. This spans the production chain in order to establish a cohesive vision. Workshops were held throughout the nation and technical groups then assessed the sector’s pressing problems. Lastly, a plan was proposed and legalized in the fall of 2018.

The plan aims to increase crop productivity from 15 quintals to 25 quintals per hectare. It will also categorize 70% of coffee exports as certified quality coffee. Both of these points are marks of sustainability and consistency. Furthermore, marketing development will occur across national and international markets to increase profitability. The plan also aspires to increase producer access to necessary financial services.

By 2030, the National Coffee Action Plan strives to increase competitiveness and sustainability in the following ways:

  1. Grow coffee exports 120%
  2. Grow parchment coffee totals to 15.9 million quintals
  3. Decrease GHG emissions by 1.73 million tonnes CO2 eq.
  4. Improve living conditions in coffee sectors

Peru’s National Coffee Action Plan recognizes the environmental, economic and social importance of developing the coffee sector and reducing poverty among smallholder farmers. Other initiatives across the global coffee sector that include brands such as Starbucks and illycaffé have promoted similar practices to advance the lives of the 25 million coffee producers worldwide. Though the nation struggles with rural poverty and deforestation, the National Coffee Action Plan displays bold steps towards envisioning a more sustainable coffee sector for both the producers and the environment.

– Suzi Quigg
Photo: Flickr

water shortage in Peru
While Peruvian infrastructure continues to improve, unequal access to safe drinking water remains a prominent issue affecting up to 5 million citizens — or a staggering 15% of the country’s population. The government recognizes that to properly tackle the pressing issue of water security, the crisis of water shortage in Peru must be addressed. This matter is particularly important in the capital, Lima, one of the world’s largest desert cities where 1.5 million citizens lack running water. Moreover, the city only receives nine millimeters of rain a year.

Peru’s Water Crisis

The government has made the goal to reach and offer all marginalized urban hotspots in need of water, such as Lima, public drinking services by 2021. Significant strides have been made since 2016 under both the Kuczynski and Vizcarra administrations. However, with 9% of its foreign investment now allocated to water and sanitation, the government also recognizes that public-private partnerships are key toward making significant strides to increase water supply. International sustainability NGO, The Nature Conservancy, has played a major role in combating the water shortage in Peru through its innovative water projects.

The Nature Conservancy

Amunas, water systems utilized in pre-Incan times, maximized the total amount of rainfall that could be used as drinking water. Given the increasingly challenging circumstances concerning Lima’s water supply, ranging from urbanization to climate change — in 2019, The Nature Conservancy decided to bring back this means of hydric regulation. The end-goal with this initiative is to alleviate the city’s distressing, water situation. Alongside the Caterpillar Foundation, NGO members are essentially building canals that funnel rain (during floods) into mountains — rather than have the rain undergo the natural processes of evaporation. Water will gradually surface in springs —an imperative for water distribution during Lima’s dry seasons. This effectively addresses the water shortage in Peru.

The amunas recovery project is taking place in the upper Rimac River Watershed, arguably Lima’s most important water supply. Given an increased amount of water within the soil, it has already resulted in the recuperation of 25 hectares of natural grasslands. Farmers located throughout the greater Lima area have therefore benefited greatly from this endeavor.

NGO and Government Partnership

As part of a new water utility effort in Lima called “Aquafondo,” The Nature Conservancy is working in conjunction with the Peruvian government to plan and develop an efficient tariff structure, funding infrastructure projects. The conservancy projects that, by 2025, $25 million will be directed toward critical hydrological services — addressing key issues such as the region’s adaptation to climate change. In addition to Aquafondo, the conservancy is organizing water funds in the Peruvian cities Piura and Cusco, both of which are also located in desert-like areas.

A Pivotal Role Going Forward

While the water shortage in Peru remains a security crisis that can impact the economic and personal development of millions of citizens — environmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy play a pivotal role. These organizations ensure water access for marginalized populations who have a great need for it. The Nature Conservancy’s international efforts, ranging from improved infrastructure throughout Latin America to restoring wetlands in India, symbolize a greater effort toward water justice among powerful non-state parties.

– Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

Peru's water crisis
While Peruvian infrastructure continues to improve, unequal access to safe drinking water remains a prominent issue. Peru’s water crisis affects up to 5 million citizens—15% of the country’s population. The government recognizes that to properly tackle this pressing issue, the country’s water scarcity crisis must be addressed. This matter is particularly important in the country’s capital, Lima. Lima is one of the world’s largest desert cities, and only receives nine millimeters of rain a year. Nearly 1.5 million citizens of the Greater Lima area lack running water.

The government has developed a goal to offer public drinking services to all such marginalized urban hotspots in need of water by 2021. Significant strides have been made since 2016 under the Kuczynski and Vizcarra administrations. However, with 9% of foreign investment now allocated to water and sanitation, the government also sees that public-private partnerships are key to increasing water supply. The Nature Conservancy, an international sustainability NGO,  has played a major role in combating the water shortage in Peru through innovative projects.

Reviving the Amuna Systems

There are increasing challenges to Peru’s water crisis—and therefore Lima’s water supply—that range from urbanization to climate change. In 2019, The Nature Conservancy revived a pre-Incan method of hydric regulation called “amunas” to alleviate the city’s distressing situation. Amunas are water systems that capture rainfall for use as potable drinking water.

Alongside the Caterpillar Foundation, NGO members are building canals that funnel flood rains into mountains rather than leave it to undergo natural processes of evaporation. Water will then gradually surface in springs, which is imperative for water distribution during Lima’s dry seasons.

The amunas recovery project is centered in the upper Rimac River Watershed, arguably Lima’s most important water supply. The increased amount of water in the soil has already resulted in the recuperation of 25 hectares of natural grasslands. Farmers located throughout the greater Lima area have benefited greatly from this endeavor.

Government Partnership

The Nature Conservancy is working in conjunction with the Peruvian government to develop an efficient tariff structure for funding infrastructure projects. This new water utility effort in Lima is called “Aquafondo.” The Nature Conservancy projects that by 2025, $25 million will be directed toward critical hydrological services. These changes address key issues, including as the region’s adaptation to climate change. In addition to Aquafondo, The Nature Conservancy is organizing water funds in the Peruvian cities of Piura and Cusco, both of which are also located in desert-like areas.

Conclusion

Peru’s water crisis remains a security issue that could impact the economic and personal development of millions of citizens. Environmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy play a pivotal role in ensuring improved water access for marginalized populations. The Nature Conservancy’s international efforts, ranging from improved infrastructure throughout Latin America to restoring wetlands in India, symbolize a greater effort toward water justice among powerful non-state parties.

Breana Stanski
Photo: Flickr

Technological Solutions Alleviating Poverty
Providing cheap, accessible and reliable technological solutions can alleviate poverty in developing nations. Technological innovations have proven to provide small-scale farmers with agribusiness and expansion opportunities for education services. They also provide growth in energy production and water security. Affordable innovations are therefore essential to improve the lives of those in need. Here are four technological solutions alleviating poverty in developing nations.

4 Technological Solutions Alleviating Poverty

  1. Digital Devices – Global citizens have more access to digital devices than ever before. In developing nations, the overwhelming usage of digital devices allows for the precise gathering of data. This collection of data provides opportunities to improve the health and food sector. For example, the Harvard School of Public Health effectively explained why and how diseases spread in Kenya. Researchers utilized statistics from digital devices to effectively locate the spread of diseases. In developing nations, digital devices can also help to connect small-scale farmers. For example, WeFarm is a free digital network that connects farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. WeFarm uses artificial intelligence to connect farmers with similar questions and answers. It also promotes the sharing of information, innovations and solutions. Therefore, farmers have seen an increase in earnings, pricing and quality of products. Similar to WeFarm, Esoko also promotes agribusiness in African countries. Esoko is a web-based program connecting small farmers to large-scale markets. Esoko sends SMS messaging offering price notifications, market opportunities and supply totals. The implementation of Esoko has decreased the cost of local farmers’ transactions. It has also increased consulting abilities and the income of small farmers. Therefore, digital devices are successful technological solutions alleviating poverty.
  2. Online Learning – Additionally, online learning is one of the other technological solutions alleviating poverty in developing nations. Improving educational opportunities is essential for a nation’s overall growth. Unfortunately, specific regions of developing nations do not have access to in-person education services. Therefore, online learning bridges this gap. The African Virtual University (AVU) is a nonprofit organization delivering higher education courses to citizens in Sub-Saharan Africa. AVU offers online learning courses from 50 universities. AVU’s mission is to improve the quality of education, provide women with educational opportunities and stimulate economic growth. In 2011, 25,000 students from 17 African countries enrolled in AVU. AVU has successfully impacted African economies by producing citizens with degrees in business or technology.
  3. Fog Catchers – People utilize fog catchers in regions where there is minimal rainfall. Fog catchers use a fitted mesh to catch water droplets. Droplets then funnel through drainages and into filters. The water that this equipment catches goes toward agriculture, laundry and other appliances. In Lima, Peru, a team from the Youthinkgreen nonprofit organization trained locals to build fog catchers. Locals expect to save over 50% of their water usage a day.
  4. Hydropower – One strategy of hydropower is to implement a versatile dam. Dams increase water security with the expansion of water storage. Hydropower also provides communities with clean, cheap and consistent energy. In the Hubei Province of China, four poor counties received hydropower development projects. The project’s mission was to use technological solutions to alleviate poverty in these counties. The project directly funded various poverty agendas of each county. An assessment of the project found that the ability of hydropower development to alleviate poverty was significant. The counties’ income levels even exceeded China’s poverty line.

Overall, affordable technological solutions alleviate global poverty in developing nations. Technology must be easy to use and consistent with the intension of generating economic progression. As technology continues to develop, services should become less exclusive and therefore more available to developing countries.

John Brinkman
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Peru
Peru is considered an upper middle-income country and is located in South America. It has a population of around 31 million people. Furthermore, Peru is ranked number 82 on the Human Development Index, meaning that it falls under the “high human development” category. Based on these positive remarks about Peru, most would assume that this country does not face any negative issues. However, when considering one of the most detrimental global issues, what does this information reveal about hunger in Peru?

5 Facts About Hunger in Peru

  1. Peru has a Global Hunger Index (GHI) of 8.8. The GHI measures countries on four indicators: undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality. A score of 8.8 means that Peru has a relatively low level of hunger. In fact, all four indicators have decreased from 2000-2019. This is because the proportion of undernourished in the population fell from 21.8% in 2000 to 9.7% in 2019.
  2. The GHI for Peru depicts a steady decrease in food insecurity and hunger for the nation. One of the main explanations for this reduction is Peru’s economic growth, especially in the mining and export sectors. As a result, Peru has seen more social and economic investment that have driven down high levels of hunger and poverty. The World Food Programme was originally providing direct aid and food supply to Peru since 1968. It has currently shifted its involvement to investment in local resources and communities in order to maintain Peru’s economic stability.
  3. However, despite Peru’s economic growth over the years, the country still retains a high level of income inequality and food insecurity. These high levels mostly occurs in rural areas throughout the country. For example, remote, rural areas that rely heavily on agricultural work are incredibly vulnerable to malnutrition and high mortality rates. The Food Security Portal divulges that 38% of people living in these remote areas do receive a proper caloric intake; 18% consists of children who experience chronic undernutrition. Certain parts of Peru may see a decrease in food insecurity. However, this way of life is not the reality for the entire country.
  4. Similarly, many of the rural regions are also plagued by extreme poverty, heightening the hunger problem even more. Specifically, 73% of this rural population does not have access to a clean water source. Additionally, 53% of the population works in the agricultural sector, limiting its ability to build up credit and obtain comprehensive job training. As a result, these citizens have a much harder time receiving consistent, well-paying jobs outside of agriculture. This can affect hunger in Peru for many reasons. These conditions create obstacles for families who need adequate income to buy food while prioritizing shelter, clothing, medical bills, education and more.
  5. When hit with COVID-19, Peru needed to ensure that its citizens were not only quarantining but were quarantining with a healthy lifestyle. Thus, the World Food Programme worked with local communities to improve communal kitchens and grocery stores as food kits for families in need are produced and distributed. Additionally, many chefs and other distinguished members of society created a large social media campaign. Doing this teaches people how to cook healthy meals while being in quarantine.

While hunger in Peru has been steadily declining over the years, the pervasive inequalities between rural and urban areas cannot be ignored. Food insecurity for rural areas largely stems from these intense income inequalities. If these gaps are not remedied, then hunger in Peru may become a bigger issue than before.

Sophia McWilliams
Photo: Flickr

Ballet and Poverty
For many, living above the poverty line is not an option. Those brought up in impoverished communities face the difficulty of earning enough money to carry themselves out of poverty. While common solutions include education and improved healthcare, some families encourage their children to pursue an activity far from these: ballet. To the layman, ballet and poverty seem to have little correlation. However, in both Peru and the slums of New York, ballet has been able to help multiple people emerge from poverty.

Like many other art forms, dance is a method of expressing oneself and one’s struggles. Those living in poverty may not have monetary wealth, but they have a wealth of experiences, in some cases aiding to a successful dance journey.

Pliés and Peru

Finding a dancer with pointed shoes and leotards is a rare occurrence in Peru. However, Maria del Carmen Silva believes that poverty should not inhibit one’s ballet education. Silva preaches that her mission is not to teach the students how to plié but to expose them to a life outside of their poor neighborhood.

Few of her students have ventured outside their town solely because of financial issues. Seven million Peruvians live on under $105 a month. Although the country is economically stable, it has one of South America’s lowest rates of education, in turn enforcing the stereotype that ballet is for the rich.

The 52-year-old teacher takes her students to Lima, the wealthiest city in Peru, for them to build alliances between the privileged and those less than. Her program has inspired girls to dance and believe in the possibility of venturing outside of their comfort zone, both mentally and physically.

While ballet may solely seem to be an outlet of expression, Silva believes that the discipline and detail necessary in ballet will teach her students vital life lessons. For many of her students, hardships were handed to them at birth. However, they describe how ballet has helped relieve stress and has provided an outlet to temporarily forget about these hardships. Silva has taught her students that ballet and poverty are not only connected but also that ballet paves a path to overcome their economic status.

The Swan Dreams Project

Although New York is a wealthy state, many communities exist well below the poverty line. Youths who grow up in the slums are unable to afford proper education as well as partake in expensive extracurricular activities, namely ballet. In 2011, former School of American Ballet dancer Aesha Ash established The Swan Dreams Project. The project promotes ballet for underprivileged children to alter the misconceptions surrounding these communities.

Growing up in these impoverished communities, Aesha recalls that there was a lack of black female role models. To alter this perspective around ballet and women of color, Aesha photographs herself in these communities, providing a success story for poor children. The retired dancer states that she aims to change the stereotype surrounding African-American women and provide an outlet of beauty and expression for any race.

The Swan Dreams Project also shows children that ballet is for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. By exposing these underprivileged communities to the art form, The Swan Dreams Project promotes greater involvement of impoverished children in the art form. In doing so, the project has donated millions of dollars to these communities. Although ballet is a stereotypically expensive activity, many dancers aim to lower the costs in impoverished communities. They bring more diversity to the art form as a result.

While ballet and poverty seem unrelated, in impoverished communities, dance provides a way to cope with one’s challenges. Despite being considered an art for the privileged, many professionals aim to teach those in underprivileged communities. In the Philippines, Ballet Manila runs a program (Project Ballet Futures) that provides free ballet training to children in impoverished neighborhoods. Similarly, ballet studios in rural communities throughout South America inspire the poor to express their stories. Around the world, ballet has contributed to impoverished societies and continues to pave the path for underprivileged children to rise above the poverty line.

Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

Loon Balloons
For many, the internet is a constant, invisible presence. This powerful network allows people to connect through social media, check the weather, or even further their education. For this privileged group, complaints about slow Wifi are commonplace and accepted. This constant exposure often produces an incorrect assumption that the internet is always available. In certain areas, however, connecting to the internet is impossible. In fact, almost half of the world’s population lacks basic internet and all of its subsequent benefits—informational, communication and entertainment. However, Loon, a subsidiary of Google, has developed a unique solution to this problem. Thanks to Loon, balloons can deliver an internet connection to remote areas from the stratosphere.

How It Works

From afar, Loon balloons look like high-tech hot air balloons. On closer inspection, it becomes clear just how complex the technology is. Each balloon is about as big as a tennis court; the material is a thin layer of polyethylene that allows the device to float above the clouds. The other components of the balloons are referred to as the “bus” and the “payload” by Loon. The bus contains navigational technology, while the payload is essentially a small cell tower that interacts with devices in the area.

Multiple balloons work together to create a network in the sky. This establishes the ability to communicate with ground stations thousands of miles away, making it possible to deliver an internet connection to remote areas without having to construct new infrastructure. The balloons’ maneuverability also helps to expand the area of coverage. Additionally, aerial coverage as opposed to ground coverage reduces operational costs. The result is an efficient network that has offered internet coverage across 40 million kilometers of the world.

Loon Projects in Kenya

As Loon’s CEO told the New York Times, Loon partnered with Telkom Kenya to “begin [a] new era of stratospheric communications.” With this partnership, Kenya aims to encourage technological advances in its nation as well as expand connectivity networks. Earlier this month, the results were encouraging. Over 35,000 people connected to Loon balloons and were granted internet connection, some of which were from remote villages previously cut off from the myriad of services on the internet. Internet connection has become more vital than ever amid the COVID-19 pandemic; millions are staying home and relying on technology for work, education and entertainment. In these times of crisis, Loon balloons in Kenya offer an important solution for rural areas needing access to educational materials and virtual resources.

Natural Disaster Aid

Loon balloons can also be an important asset during natural disasters. This was exemplified in 2017 when Peru and parts of the Amazon experienced severe flooding. The rain and floods disabled ground infrastructure and left people stranded without communication. An internet connection was necessary to identify those who needed help and to bring aid to certain areas. The balloons, safe above stormy clouds, were then sent in to provide internet access during this natural disaster.

Extended launch hours allowed Loon balloons in Peru to be launched 40% faster to accommodate the emergency situation, and this solution was both successful and revolutionary. These balloons brought the internet to tens of thousands of people suffering in flood zones, allowing for the organization of aid efforts as well as communication between families.

Loon balloons have the ability to erase disparities in internet access. This technology can greatly increase the percentage of the world with access to the internet. This organization proves that help can sometimes come from the most unexpected of places: in this case, the clouds.

Abigail Gray
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

healthcare in peruPeru carries a heavy history of periodic instability that has made the establishment of an accessible healthcare system perilous. The country suffers from an inequitable distribution of healthcare workers. It also struggles with the partition between private and governmentally-sponsored healthcare, the provisions of which skew inequitably toward the wealthy. Peru’s wealth gap shows the richest 20% in the nation controlling nearly half of its income and the poorest 20% earning less than 5%. This inequality is quite literally killing Peruvians. According to the 2007 National Census of Indigenous Peoples conducted by the Peruvian government, over 50% of census-interviewed communities did not have access to any form of health care facility.

Healthcare in Peru by the Numbers

  • The life expectancy in Peru is 74 years, landing the country at 126 out of 224 countries.
  • The probability of a child in Peru dying before the age of five is 1.4%, compared to 0.1% in the United States.
  • Peru spends 5.5% of its GDP on healthcare, compared to the U.S.’s 17.1%, ranking the country at 128 out of 224 countries.
  • In Peru, there are one and a half hospital beds available per 1,000 individuals. This is a number that is especially dire during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Peru clocks in at just under one and one-quarter of a physician per every 1,000 Peruvians in need of medical care.

Structure of Healthcare in Peru

Due in part to fluctuating governmental structures and rulers, Peru currently operates with a decentralized health care system administered by five entities. Two of these entities provide 90% of the nation’s healthcare services publicly, while three provide 10% of the nation’s healthcare in the private sector. This distribution results in considerable overlap and little coordination, depleting the healthcare system of resources and providers. In fact, many healthcare providers in Peru work an assortment of jobs across different subsectors.

As healthcare is a necessary sector of the economy, Peru’s healthcare worker density is increasing, even as health worker outmigration also increases. But since these workers are not equitably distributed, coastal and urban areas monopolize the majority of these providers. Lima and tourist coasts boast the highest distribution of healthcare workers, while rural and remote areas such as Piura and Loreto are home to few health providers.

Impact of the Healthcare Structure on Women

The detrimental effects of inequitable healthcare distribution are most visible in the country’s astonishing maternal mortality rate. In Peru, 185 out of 100,000 mothers dying from pregnancy-related causes, one of the highest in the Americas. The burden of maternal mortality rests squarely upon the shoulders of poor, rural, and Indigenous women. They are dying from largely preventable causes in a massive breach of human rights. These women disproportionately face countless barriers to pregnancy wellness and birth healthcare, including a dearth of emergency obstetric and neonatal services, language barriers and a lack of information regarding maternal health. Peru has implemented policies in recent years to reduce the rate of maternal mortality, such as the increase of maternal waiting houses for rural pregnant women to reside in as they approach birth. Unfortunately, women and health professionals attest that these measures are inadequate and improperly implemented.

The only cause of premature death that precedes neonatal disorders as a result of inadequate neonatal obstetrics is lower respiratory infections. This type of infection is the most likely cause of premature death, and it has remained so since 2007. This illness, too, disproportionately impacts women and children. They are the most likely groups to die from household air pollution, a type of pollution caused by the burning of solid fuels for cooking and heating purposes. In Peru, 429 out of an estimated 1,110 yearly childhood deaths are caused by acute lower respiratory infections resulting from household air pollution. Combined, neonatal disorders and lower respiratory infections cause more death and disability than any other factor in Peru. These are shortening the lives of Peruvian women and children by almost 20%.

Moving Forward with Healthcare in Peru

The healthcare system in Peru is one that suffers many flaws. It is straining to support its people, especially in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. While the going is slow, the country is striving to reform its healthcare system. Peru is doing this by reforming its healthcare system in the direction of universal coverage – an achievable but certainly strenuous goal. Since vigorously implementing healthcare reform in the late 90s, Peru reports coverage of 80% of its population with some form of health services. While this number is far from ideal, it is evidence that the Peruvian government is not only cognizant of but concerned about its healthcare failures, and it is striving for a fuller coverage future.

 

– Annie Iezzi
Photo: NeedPix

Plant Powered Lamps Light Up Peruvian VillagesPeru is a developing country in Latin America. It has one of the region’s best economies with a 50% growth in per capita income in a decade. Despite the country’s growing success, there is a considerable gap in electricity access between rural and urban parts of the city. Only about 62% of people in rural areas have access to electricity. Fortunately, a group of students and professors from a Peruvian university are developing a solution to combat the issue. The plantalámpara is a lamp powered solely by plants that will light up Peruvian villages.

How Did the Idea Come About?

A hurricane occurred in the Amazon rainforest area of Peru that left 173 inhabitants of the Nuevo Saposoa region without electricity. Also, about 42% of the rural population did not have electricity at all. The Nuevo Saposoa village is remote and isolated from nearby cities. It is a five-hour boat ride from the nearest town, so the village could not receive reliable access to electricity after floods from the hurricane destroyed power lines.

Consequently, the inhabitants could not perform daily tasks after sunset, like studying and cooking. A professor and group of students at the UTEC University in Lima developed the plantalámpara to solve the issue of the lack of electricity. The plantalámpara lights up Peruvian villages. The developers encourage people to get back to their normal lives.

The plantalámpara is made in a box filled with a grid of electrodes and a plant growing inside. Photosynthesis, or the capturing of sunlight energy by plants, powers the box. When the plant goes through photosynthesis, its waste decomposes in the soul and produces electrons. As a result, the lamp captures those electrons and converts the energy into battery power. It can light up a 50-watt bulb for up to two hours.

Benefits of the Plantalámpara

The lamp provides clean and sustainable energy to forest villages without using gas, oil, or dirty fossil fuels. The plant-based light is entirely pollution-free. Additionally, plants offer 100% renewable energy at a low cost. According to a lead professor of the project, any plant can be used for the lamp, though some work better than others. The plantalámpara protects the beautiful rainforest, lights up Peruvian villages, and provides the Nuevo Saposoa community with more opportunities and a better quality of life.

It also gives Peruvian residents the possibility to work on schoolwork and other tasks past sunset. UTEC intended to put the digital community in the shoes (or eyes) of a forest dweller to understand how a lack of light can affect daily actions. The team originally provided 10 of the lamp prototypes to Nuevo Saposoa. The hope is that these lamps will eventually replace gas and oil lamps.

The plantalámpara serves as a crucial part of reducing the gap between rural and urban areas of Peru. Its amazing eco-friendly technology helps to light up Peruvian villages while not harming the environment at the same time. With this invention and more, Peru will continue to grow and expand, as more opportunities become available to all.

Shveta Shah
Photo: Flickr