How the Wawa Laptop Project is Helping Peru's Remote EducationAs the COVID-19 pandemic keeps schools in many countries closed and kids at home, it also highlights the inequality of education worldwide. The quality of education for children in Peru, a nation with one of the highest virus mortality rates, is based largely on the wealth of the family. This disparity in opportunity will only grow larger with remote schooling, where more of the burden is put on the parents and home to provide for the students. For families who cannot afford personal tutors or often-expensive education technology and the internet, they currently have no access to quality education for their children. Many organizations and companies in Latin America have been able to assist in this burden, creating new ways to provide education to poor students. School broadcasts on television and affordable curriculum education have been highly-praised, but some companies have been trying to make the technology itself more attainable for students. The Wawa Laptop Project is one example of this, creating laptops out of recycled materials and forming an initiative to donate laptops to Peruvian students in need.

Unequal Education in Peru

According to a UNICEF study, nearly 463 students across the world are without access to proper education, as well as television, internet or additional services. This leaves students out entirely, with no access to any form of education. This issue is impacting children in Peru, where children are allotted only one hour outside of the home a day.

Throughout Latin America, it is reported that only an average of 67% of the population has access to the internet, with that number closer to 10% in the poorest nations. In Peru, around one in three homes have access to a computer, meaning that a majority of the population is left without easy access to the internet. The harsh reality of this is that, at least for impoverished children in Peru, remote learning is simply impossible as it currently exists.

The government of Peru has become involved, ensuring that class lessons will be available on television broadcast until 2021, but this would still leave out a portion of the population with access to education. This inability to accommodate all students seems to mean that, until the schools can safely reopen, impoverished children will be left behind from their more wealthy classmates.

Wawa Laptops and Eco-friendly Tech Amid COVID-19

Wawa Laptops were created a year ago as an attempt to provide technology to the most vulnerable children in Peru. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative shifted to responding to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in impoverished regions. Solar-powered and running on Linux operating systems, the laptops are also constructed using recycled materials, meaning that they are far more affordable for impoverished families. The laptops are said to last as long as 15 years, and before the outbreak, the Wawa Laptops had been successfully given to hundreds of Peruvian children in need.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, Wawa Laptops seem to be an affordable solution to some of the issues many children in Peru are facing. As a response, the company has launched the “Donate a Wawa Laptop, Educate a child” campaign, in which people can donate a laptop to a child in need. This donation will allow children who would otherwise be left out of a year of school to keep up with their fellow students. While not a total solution to the education divide in the country, the Wawa Laptop Project provides impoverished Peruvian children with quality education.

While students in Peru as well as the rest of the developing world are sure to face continued struggles in this year of remote learning, organizations like Wawa Laptop Project are supporting the most vulnerable young people. Access to technology and opportunity will be one of the main determinators for schooling in the COVID-19 age. With the support and ongoing donations, Wawa Laptops will allow children in Peru to stay focused on school amid the unprecedented international crisis.

– Matthew McKee
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Peru
Peru is home to world-famous cultural sites, exquisite dishes and a vast array of bright-colored fabrics. However, beyond the nation’s appealing attractions and delectable meals, human trafficking in Peru is leading to the exploitation of the most vulnerable individuals in society.

Victims of Human Trafficking in Peru

Around 863,000 Venezuelans fled their country and entered Peru in order to seek refuge. Peruvian traffickers exploit refugees when traveling to Peru or shortly after their arrival. In 2019, 301 Venezuelan adults and children worked as prostitutes or engaged in forced labor.

Traffickers exploit adolescents due to their eagerness to work. When Peruvian schools close down from December to February for the holidays, many students seek employment to obtain extra pocket money. However, traffickers lure these individuals in with false promises of work and high financial compensation. Exploiters take the adolescent males to remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, like the Madre de Dios region, to engage in forced labor in the illegal extraction of gold. Additionally, traffickers obligate female teenagers to offer sex services to the adult miners in the area.

Lastly, exploiters target children due to their willingness to follow directions. However,  some Peruvians living in poverty willingly sell their children to human traffickers to receive financial compensation. The infamous terrorist group called The Shining Path steals children and trains them to become soldiers for its organization. Also, some children work as farmers, housekeepers, produce and transport drugs or engage in terrorism. Traffickers who do not belong to the terrorist group force young individuals to engage in panhandling, sell products in the streets, become housekeepers, produce and sell cocaine or other illegal activities.

Challenges with the Judicial System

Individuals found guilty of human trafficking in Peru spend eight to 15 years in prison for exploiting adults, 12 to 20 years for exploiting adolescents and at least 25 years for exploiting children according to Article 53 of the penal code. However, human traffickers almost never receive adequate punishment for their crimes. More often than not, criminals receive light sentences because judges find it difficult to prosecute more complicated crimes.

Solutions

The Peruvian government offered training and workshops on how to identify human trafficking to almost 1,000 government employees and regular citizens. Over 100 members of law enforcement learned how to better identify victims of human trafficking. Also, officials offered training to 22 regions of the country that receive a high amount of foreign visitors in order to reduce exploitation in the tourist sector. Lastly, the government provided support to initiatives that help raise awareness to students and children. These initiatives provide workshops, hand out flyers and engage in conversation with young individuals at transit stations. For example, since its establishment in 2017, A Theater Against Human Trafficking traveled to schools to promote awareness and advocate for the prevention of human trafficking in Peru.

With the in-kind support of the government, nonprofit organizations provided adequate training to 253 members of the judicial system on human trafficking, 821 lawyers and almost 1,000 shelters on how to deal with trafficking victims. They also taught classes to members of law enforcement on how to approach victims. One of the main organizations receiving help from the government is Capital Humano y Social Alternativo. Since its establishment in 2004, CHS Alternativo protected the rights of human trafficking victims and reached more than 1,400 victims.

The Catholic Relief Services in Peru provide shelter and protection to individuals who escaped their traffickers. CRS came to Peru in 1950 and impacted the lives of 15,224 victims. Social workers who work for these organizations go to areas that human trafficking most affects, like Madre de Dios, to provide counseling services to victims. Also, social workers go to local schools to provide workshops about trafficking to students.

Although human trafficking persists in Peru, the government and nonprofit organizations take serious efforts to raise awareness about the issue and to provide help for victims. With the increased efforts to stop human trafficking in Peru, the country can expect a decrease in the exploitation of vulnerable individuals.

– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in PeruPeru is currently the country with the world’s highest per-population confirmed COVID-19 mortality rate, and native communities are amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic. Peru is home to one of Latin America’s largest Indigenous populations, whose ancestors lived in the Andean country before the arrival of Spanish colonists. Peru has a population of 32 million people, with 33% of Peruvians identify as Indigenous. Most Indigenous communities are located in remote regions with extremely limited access to doctors and healthcare services.

In Peru, the number of COVID-19 cases among Indigenous people has exceeded 21,000. Across many measures, Indigenous Peruvians are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Conventional medical services are rare and often ill-equipped. The national census reported that only about one-third of communities have access to clinics. Furthermore, over 90% of medical services that exist in the region lack any medical workers and the majority also do not have electricity and running water. The disparities in medical attention are a catalyst for the extraordinarily high positive rate in the Amazon region, which has reached 15.75%.

Decades of under-investment in public healthcare, combined with the skepticism of modern medicine, mean many are not receiving standard treatments like oxygen therapy to treat severe virus cases. Traditional medicine has become the first line of defense against the pandemic in these communities and has compelled many Indigenous groups to utilize ancestral remedies to fight COVID-19 in Peru.

Traditional Medicine to Fight COVID-19 in Peru

Throughout history, traditional medicine has been a source of medical treatment for a plethora of diseases. In Peru, local people rely primarily on traditional medicine, while Western medicine is ancillary. Consequently, inclusive mobilization of traditional medicine resources is important for more effective control of COVID-19. Western medicine is generally fixated on an individual patient’s illness, while Indigenous healers have a more holistic approach to medicine that focuses on the individual’s personal relationships and the natural world.

Traditional medicine offers a key opportunity to fight against COVID-19 in Peru’s rural communities. The contribution of traditional medicine and healers in the management of COVID-19 in Peru has the scope to enhance health initiatives and medical care services. Local plants, such as buddleja globosa, or locally known as “matico,” are being used by the Shipibo people, who are one of the largest ethnic groups in Peru’s Amazon region, to treat symptoms of COVID-19. This plant is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. A combination of Indigenous medicine and Western medications, such as paracetamol, are acting as substitutes for typical treatments for the virus as Indigenous communities fight to lessen the burden of the pandemic with limited resources.

Providing Solutions

Several organizations are working to combat COVID-19 in Peru. WiRED International has joined forces with Project Amazonas (PA) to train community health workers and create a sustainable health database for the region. Based on World Health Organization standards, they implemented a comprehensive program in Iquitos. The curriculum consists of a myriad of training modules to better equip community health workers to fight and contain infectious diseases. PA and WiRED also collaborated to create an online patient-record database that can be accessed without the internet. The information collected can then be uploaded to the national health database to bring the needs of the Indigenous communities to the government’s and health leader’s attention.

Sinergias, a Colombian nonprofit organization, created an intercultural, multi-pronged approach to fight COVID-19 in the Amazon. The organization is collaborating with local communities and governments to create and implement health guidelines for rural areas that fuse traditional and Western medicine approaches. Additionally, Sinergias has joined the effort to create an Amazonian Health Observatory. This observatory provides reliable information about COVID-19 and has the potential to expand to monitor and document the region’s overall health.

Strengthening local health systems and improving Indigenous populations’ access to resources is pertinent to easing the burden of the COVID-19 in Peru. Some populations are experiencing relief from COVID-19 symptoms with a combination of traditional and Western medicine. Combating COVID-19 in a medically plural society has its challenges, yet implementing effective solutions is possible with diligence and collaboration.

– Samantha Johnson
Photo: Flickr

Food InsecurityPeru is a country in South America home to some of the world’s natural wonders, such as the Amazon rainforest and the Andes mountains. Thanks to stable economic growth, social initiatives, and investments in health, education and infrastructure, poverty and hunger have significantly decreased in Peru over the last decade. However, according to World Food Program USA (WFP-USA), one in five Peruvians live in a district with high vulnerability to food insecurity. Rural Indigenous populations, representing 52% of Peruvians in poverty, face particular concerns over hunger. Inequalities in lack of access to water and education lead to chronic hunger and malnourishment in these populations. However, Indigenous populations are learning to adapt to food insecurity in the Andes.

Melting Glaciers and Food Insecurity in the Andes

The Andes hold 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers. However, as climate change progresses, many of Peru’s glaciers are melting. This is disastrous for many of the people living in the foothills. These citizens are losing access to clean water, which is essential for drinking and irrigating staple crops and pastures. As the glaciers melt, water cannot run through the cracks of the mountain downhill into the springs for the people to collect. This causes a decline in crop yields and crop diversification, which can lead to food insecurity in the Andes.

“If the snow disappears, the people will disappear too,” says Rev. Antonio Sánchez-Guardamino, a priest in the country’s southern Ocongate District. He continues, “if the snow disappears, we will be left without water. The pastures and the animals will disappear. Everything is interconnected. The problem of the melting of the glaciers is that the source of life is drying up.”

Food insecurity in the Andes is therefore a persistent and serious problem. Many smallholder farmers produce staple crops at a subsistence level, enough to feed themselves and their families. However, with less water, it has been difficult for them to uphold this, leading to the danger of food insecurity.

Adapting to these Changes

As water in the lower regions of the mountains grows scarce, farmers are adapting to keep up with these geographical changes. One way they have adapted is by moving uphill, where water is more abundant but land is more scarce. Moving crops uphill also prevents diseases such as late blight from killing off entire harvests. This helps farmers maintain a sufficient potato yield for their families.

Another way Peruvian farmers have adapted to water scarcity is by revamping ancient agricultural technologies and practices. The use of amunas, for example, is extremely resourceful. These stone-lined canals turn rainwater into drinking water by channeling the rainwater to springs downslope for use. Today, most of these once-widespread canals lie abandoned, but 11 of them still function. They feed 65 active springs and 14 small ponds.

Terracing is another ancient agricultural practice that makes farming on the highlands fruitful. It involves flattening out the rocky terrain into level terraces for plant roots to better grip. In the Andes, this is an increasingly common agricultural practice. Terracing has shown to create sustainable water-drainage systems and successfully produce high yields of crops.

Taking Further Action

From 2007 to 2011, The New Zealand Aid Programme along with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiated the FORSANDINO (Strengthening of High-Andean Indigenous Organizations and Recovery of their Traditional Products) project in Huancavelica, Peru. The project aimed to improve food management and development in Indigenous communities. In doing so, it hoped to alleviate food insecurity in the Andes.

Thanks to this initiative, the production of staple crops significantly increased. Indigenous communities produced 329% more quinoa and 100% more potatoes, oca and mashua. Consumption also dramatically increased by 73% for quinoa, 43% for mashua and 64% for oca. In addition, the net annual income per capita increased by 54% for families participating in the project. As a result, the proportion of families living below the poverty line decreased.

As climate change wreaks havoc on the livelihoods of Peruvians, especially farmers in the Andes, they are cultivating a culture of resistance. People are looking to their roots, resources, communities and innate abilities for answers. This restoration work is renewing old technologies that can still help today. Hopefully, the government will also focus more on on meeting the needs of farmers to support their fight against food insecurity in the Andes.

Sarah Uddin
Photo: Flickr

Maternal Health in PeruEfforts to improve maternal health in Peru have seen incredibly positive growth in recent years. At one point, the country was losing mothers to childbirth and childbearing causes at an incredibly high rate. Now, it is far more in line with its neighboring countries’ maternal health rates. However, some regions of Peru that are more rural remain causes for concern by both the Peruvian citizens and government when it comes to the health of mothers.

A Look at the Numbers

In 1990, statistics were released that showed the under-five mortality rate of children to be a staggering 80.3 per 1,000 live births in Peru. The maternal death rate was 200 deaths per 100,000 live births. These statistics were both among the highest in South America. The Peruvian government and the greater world quickly recognized a need to step in. They needed to create change in the quality of maternal healthcare in the country. Two primary programs helped lead the fight for improving conditions for women and maternal health in Peru between 1990 and today.

Mothers Matter

In 2006, CARE ran a crucial case study and program to benefit the health of mothers in Peru called Mothers Matter. The program sought to protect the lives of women through a combination of implementing family planning education. It also provided well-trained medical professionals in obstetrics and postpartum care and addressed big-picture concerns in Peru’s health policy.

As part of the Mothers Matter program created by CARE, the organization partnered with Columbia University. It did this to create The Foundations to Enhance Management of Maternal Emergencies (FEMME). Through FEMME, the organization reduced maternal deaths by 50% in a region of Peru called Ayacucho, one of the poorest in the country. FEMME was driven by eight central goals including standardizing obstetric care. The goals also included working with medical professionals to improve the use of referrals and creating new emergency guidelines for obstetric and newborn care. Throughout this program, the organization stressed a maintained focus guided by human rights.

PARSALUD

Additionally, in 2017, The World Bank reported helping to fund a program called PARSALUD. It aimed to support the Peruvian government and its goals to reform healthcare for women and children. The program successfully helped to improve family planning practices. It also improved healthcare services for women in need of pregnancy and postnatal care. The organization claims a 30% increase in hospital deliveries for women in rural areas. It also claims an increase of almost 50% of women attending a prenatal care visit before their second trimester.

Progress and Remaining Concerns

These organizations, the government and the resilience and dedication of citizens in Peru know they deserve better. As a result, the under-five mortality rate is now down to an all-time low for the country at 13.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. However, this is not the end of the story for maternal health in Peru.

The regions which are poorer, more rural and more populated by Indigenous people are still suffering more deaths. These deaths are due to improper health education and lack of access to safe facilities and competent care. They are also a result of language barriers between Indigenous and Spanish-speaking citizens. For example, according to recent reports, Puno, a primarily Indigenous area, maternal mortality is nearly 50% higher than the country’s average.

Overall, great strides have been made in the care for maternal health in Peru. Nonetheless, it will require continued efforts by everyone involved to bring proper health equity to the varying regions of the country and its mothers.

– Aradia Webb
Photo: Flickr

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

Advancements in Agricultural Technology
Agriculture is a salient cultivation practice, enriching the quality of life for generations upon generations of people since the first civilizations formed on Earth. Today, agriculture is essential for stimulating the global economy and can lead to higher job creation, especially when considering national poverty reduction efforts. Advancements in agricultural technology can make agriculture more efficient and help reduce poverty levels around the world.

More agricultural productivity means greater income for farmers, lower food prices, increased food supplies and more job opportunities in rural and urban areas. Consumer demand for goods that non-agricultural sectors produce also increases as income increases; this connection between growth in the agricultural sector and other constituents are what have allowed developing countries to diversify the products and services available within their own economies and the global economy.

Food Insecurity and Agriculture

Today, over 800 million people globally are undernourished and approximately 700 million people are severely food insecure, though there is a falling trend in malnourishment as time passes. This is demanding for all, but especially for children, who are the most vulnerable, as they are still developing both physically and mentally. Poor nutrition, even for a short time, can stunt development in the long run and produce adverse effects on children’s futures.

Despite these harsh realities, the FAO has been a key player in reducing global hunger, assisting countries in assessing various constraints on land use with the goal of achieving an optimally sustainable usage and allocation of resources and empowering people to make informed agricultural decisions for their communities. In the last 20 years, the FAO reports that undernourishment fell from 18.7% to 11.3% globally, and from 23.4% to 13.5% for developing countries.

Advancements in Agricultural Technology

In order to further mitigate the adverse effects of food insufficiency and insecurity, countries must rely on technological innovations in the agricultural sector to keep up with increasing food demands. Here are five advancements to agricultural technology that aim to shift the paradigm of hunger and malnourishment for generations to come.

  1. Solar Mini-Grids in Myanmar: In Myanmar, solar mini-grids have played an important role in bringing electricity to hundreds of villages around the country, especially for rural and remote communities, where working mini-grids offer an opportunity to build resilience and farm sustainably. With partial funding from the World Bank and Parami Energy and with villagers covering the rest of the funding, 1,442 households connected to the mini-grid, changing the way many families live and increasing the productivity on their farms. Over the course of 2020, Parami Energy plans to connect 4,097 more homes to the mini-grid system, and by 2030, the government hopes to achieve national electrification for Myanmar.
  2. GPS-Enabled Cell Phones: Some are using GPS-enabled cell phones to monitor agricultural extension agents (AEAs) in Paraguay. In order to manage how people receive agricultural services, central governments often assign local supervisors some authority over processes. Even though the supervisors are knowledgeable about local affairs, they still may be unable to monitor the performance of workers. These GPS-enabled cell phones allow supervisors to see where AEAs are at all times, how much time they spend in each place and their reported activities with farmers. A research study found that the phones positively influenced the performance of AEAs, increasing the number of farmers they visited by 6%, 22% greater than the AEAs who did not receive monitoring.
  3. Waru Warus: A revamping of ancient agricultural technologies is coming to fruition in Peru, as sustainable practices increase in a nationwide fight against environmental challenges and poverty. Farmers use waru warus to irrigate crops and store water. This agricultural technology system, a mix of raised beds and irrigation channels, is an inexpensive way to improve crop yields and mitigate the detrimental effects of farming at 12,500 feet above sea level. Alipio Canahua, an agronomist working with the FAO, stated that waru warus capture “water when there are droughts and drain away water when there’s too much rain, meaning that it irrigates the crops all year round.
  4. The NextGen Cassava Breeding Project: The NextGen Cassava Breeding project (NextGen Cassava) aims to streamline cassava breeding facilities in Africa and efficiently deliver improved varieties of cassava with advanced technology. The beneficiaries of this project are cassava farmers of Africa, who receive improved cassava varieties and root yields that are more resilient to pests and diseases, and exhibit other desirable traits that farmers prefer. Disease-resistant varieties of cassava take a substantial amount of time to grow. However, with NextGen’s use of accurate computer modeling techniques, this time has reduced by half and much new information on the plant is on the Cassavabase open-source database for future use.
  5. Rice Transplanters: Japan has widely used rice transplanters for efficient rice seedling planting. This machine aims to lessen the burden on farmers by reducing the need for manual labor in the rice-planting process. First, the rice planter creates a map of the rice field using a GPS while it moves around the perimeter of the field. The planter then calculates its planting route based on the map and automatically plants rice seedlings with the machine. A remote controller needs to monitor the machine, however, a person does not have to drive it, considerably reducing the amount of physical labor necessary.

As the world shifts into a time where innovation is the prevalent driver of change, humanity’s oldest sustainable cultivation practices are also shifting to meet the dynamic array of global needs. Advances in agricultural technology are necessary to meet the increasing demands of food and sustainability for future generations. And while finances are difficult to procure for any investment in innovation, there is a culture of empowerment—especially in the nations who need these advancements the most—which instills a socioeconomic structure regarding the social context of innovation, necessary to inform and encourage the younger generations to further improve the world.

– Sarah Uddin
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