President Kuczynski's Plans to Reduce Poverty in Peru
Since assuming office in July 2016, Peru’s President Kuczynski has promised to modernize the economy and fight poverty in Peru. By expanding basic services and aspiring to membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Kuczynski hopes to leave Peru a “fairer, more equitable, and more united” nation.

During the past decade, Peru experienced a commodity boom and increase in tourism, both of which contributed to impressive economic growth. Peru’s GDP and GNI per capita sharply increased over this period, and consequently, development surged.

Poverty in Peru dropped from 55.6 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2015. Peru has become a regional leader in education coverage, reducing dropout rates and reducing unwanted teenage pregnancy, among other indicators. The chief-economist for the Development Bank of Latin America praised Peru for consolidating its fiscal position and expanding the middle class.

Despite recent development, poverty in Peru still exists. As of 2012, 25.8 percent of the population was living below the poverty line, with nearly 5 percent living in extreme poverty.

Despite some progress in government programs aimed at helping Peru’s poorest citizens, basic services and infrastructure remain insufficient in rural areas.

To combat ongoing poverty, President Kuczynski seeks to launch a “social revolution.” Aimed at helping the most impoverished citizens, the new administration promises to expand access to basic services while also advancing Peru’s national policies and institutional involvement. These plans build on Peru’s active role in complying with the millennium development goals and show a strong commitment to the new challenge of achieving the sustainable development goals.

The main tenants of President Kuczynski’s social revolution are providing safe drinking water, improving the quality of basic education, implementing universal health care, ending informal employment, fighting corruption and developing better infrastructure.

An early sign of success for the revolution is the $74.5 million joint investment between the Government of Peru and the International Fund for Agricultural Development intended to create rural employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. The targeted regions of this investment are characterized by chronic and extreme poverty and conflict.

Additionally, the Kuczynski administration seeks to institutionalize its modernization by attaining OECD membership.

Supporting President Kuczynski, Peruvian Prime Minister Fernando Zavala has expressed progressive, development-oriented policies to complement Peru’s rise into OECD membership. World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar, supports this ascent, claiming the OECD’s dedication to “better policies for a better life,” complements the World Bank’s goals of poverty eradication and improved prosperity for all.

President Kuczynski has big plans for Peru, but the vast development across the nation in the past decade provides a promising foundation. Expanding basic services to the poorest citizens and positioning governmental affairs towards institutional advancement forecast a hopeful future for reducing poverty in Peru and realizing Kuczynski’s goal of a “fairer, more equitable, and more united” nation.

McKenna Lux

Photo: Flickr

Expanding Healthcare in Peru
Although Peru has been continuing to prosper within recent years, there are still many Peruvians who live well below the poverty line. Peru’s government, along with partnering organizations, have been working to increase the coverage of health care in Peru. Target areas include those who live in rural areas with limited access to health care, as well as those living in urban communities that cannot afford health care.

In 2009, the Peruvian government passed a law mandating universal health insurance as a right for all Peruvians. Under the new extension of coverage, pregnant women and those with children under the age of five now qualified for the Ministry of Health’s (Ministerio de Salud, MINSA) Integral Health Insurance (Seguro Integral de Salud, SIS) program. At the start of last year, 2015 newborns whose parents did not have health insurance became automatically covered under SIS.

The Ministry’s desire to ensure health care for all Peruvians inspired SIS Entrepreneur, which covers independent workers and the School Health Plan, which covers children enrolled in school. MINSA’s efforts are truly making a difference, health insurance coverage has increased since 2010 by 20 percent, and 80 percent of Peruvians are now covered.

Despite the increase in health insurance, the expansion of services to rural areas remains a challenge. Incentives and compensation pay for working in rural areas or high priorities zones were introduced to help even out the density of health care workers.

Reformation on all levels of health care in Peru has been a priority within the past few years. At the end of 2014, a plan to repair and modernize facilities was released. The completion of the plan saw to the reconstruction of 170 provincial hospitals, 23 regional hospitals and 13 national hospitals. Major improvements on three specialty hospitals are to begin at the end of this year.

The proficiency of the Peruvian health care system also relies heavily on the networks’ abilities to work efficiently with one another. There are five leading health care sectors, as well as the private health care services. Thus, in 2013, there was a restructuring of services, resulting in the creation of a general overseer, the Management Institute of Health Services. MIHS improved the availability of primary services by making it easier for the other networks to respond to patients from SIS providers and broadened the pharmaceutical pool through integrating public providers.

Although MINSA is diligent with their plans for reformation and has made undebatable headway, humanitarian organizations still play a key role in providing health care in Peru. The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) works in two primary locations: Huancayo, an urbanized poor sector, and La Merced, a jungle area that is rich with native culture. FIMRC works with the hospitals there to improve health education in the community. The majority of health complications within these areas are preventable through basic hygiene knowledge.

Partners in Health is another organization deeply rooted in Peru. PIH is a partner with MINSA, and they operate 10 clinics situated in poverty stricken sections of Lima that would not have health care otherwise. PIH works to provide health education to the communities and is very invested in meeting the needs of the residents.

PIH is also a global leader in the study and treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). PIH began the construction of the Center for Global Health Delivery recently. The center, located north of Lima, will be a place to treat those with MDR-TB and act as a research facility for disease experts.

As the Oxford Business Group pointed out, investment is the key to the continued expansion and improvement of health care in Peru. Right now, Peru’s gross domestic product on health care is regionally low, at three percent. If Peru can continue to prioritize health care and increase their investment, health care will thrive.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Peru
Water quality in Peru is a major problem. According to water.org, four million Peruvians don’t have access to clean water. Tap water in Peru must be boiled for at least one minute or purified using other methods to be safe for drinking.

According to Scientific American, as water shortages cause crop failure, people in rural Peru move to the cities. Unemployment and poverty in these urban areas lead to problems involving mental health, alcoholism and domestic violence.

Modern technology is providing new sources of water in Peru, and efforts are being made to improve Peru’s water quality.

Water-Producing Billboard

The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru teamed up with an ad agency to construct a water-producing billboard in Lima. The billboard uses reverse osmosis to capture and filter water from the humid air, store it in 20-liter tanks and provide quality water for the people of Lima every day. In a three month period, the billboard dispensed 9,450 liters of water. This groundbreaking tool may be the first of many to come.

President Kuczynski’s Campaign

Newly elected president of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has announced a focus on improving health services and water quality in Peru. Kuczynski participated in the Hydroperu 2030 forum in August, in which innovative proposals aimed at establishing a clean water supply were presented.

Water for People-Peru

Water for People-Peru partners with local governments to collect data on water quality in Peru, hire officials committed to water sanitation and create effective improvement strategies. It also builds quality water facilities and has designed and implemented a water education curriculum in six schools.

Sanitation Sector Reform Law

Peru’s Sanitation Sector Reform Law now requires water utilities to conserve watersheds and consider climate change adaptations throughout their operations. This law may initially present some challenges, but in the long run, it may help create a more sustainable water supply.

Lima Water Fund

The Nature Conservancy has partnered with five other organizations to develop the Lima Water Fund. The fund’s focus is environmental conservation through the stabilization of existing slopes and lagoons and the reforestation of watersheds. This committee is working to provide water solutions now and protect the future through education and government partnership.

Government officials and aid organizations will continue to work together to improve water quality in Peru and design creative innovations, building stability for Peru’s future.

Rebecca Causey

Photo: Flickr

Seven Facts About Hunger in Peru
In the South American country of Peru, culture runs deep. From the Andes to the Amazon rainforest, nearly half of the Peruvian population is of indigenous descent. Many of these people still hold ancestral beliefs and even practice traditional Incan medicine. Unfortunately, even the strongest Peruvian medicine men are not immune to the effects of hunger.

Here is a list of facts about hunger in Peru:
1. Up to 5.2 million Peruvians are vulnerable to food insecurity.
Food insecurity occurs when there is unreliable access to an affordable, nutritious food source. This can be caused by recurrent natural disasters, international commodity market fluctuations or limited purchasing power.

2. Peru is prone to natural disasters.
Whether a flood, drought or earthquake, it could happen in Peru. All of these disasters can destroy crops and cause people to lose access to food sources, significantly affecting nutrition.

3. El Niño is no friend to Peru.
Occurring between every three and seven years, El Niño has a warming effect. This warming causes fish stocks that Peru relies on to fall. Additionally, the weather pattern causes a variety of other natural disasters like droughts or severe flooding. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), these disasters can reduce Peru’s economy by up to five percent, drastically lowering the nutritional status of many citizens.

4. Cold waves are equally damaging.
With yearly cold waves come the deaths of not only hundreds of thousands of livestock, but crops and even people. These losses decrease the availability of food and labor and increase hunger in Peru.

5. Malnutrition affects 500,000 children in Peru.
Despite significant improvement in recent years, certain rural areas still see malnutrition rates of up to 35 percent of children under five years old.

6. Anemia may be just as prevalent.
Up to 46 percent of Peruvian children under the age of three years old are affected by anemia. Both malnutrition and anemia are products of widespread insufficient access to food, unhealthy eating patterns, lack of childcare, improper nutrition and low education levels.

7. The WFP is taking action to fight hunger in Peru.
Rather than providing food or money assistance to Peru, the WFP is now providing support to the government in order to implement food and nutrition programs as well as protect and strengthen current food security. A few of the ways these measures are being executed include advising school nutrition and meal planning, emergency response assistance and planning, and public education of ways to fight anemia in communities.

Hunger in Peru does not have to be devastating, and it is likely that with help from organizations like the WFP, Peru can make a strong comeback in the fight against hunger and its causes.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

Popularity of Quinoa

Prior to quinoa’s surge in popularity, few Americans had heard of this South American grain. U.S. imports alone quadrupled between 2006 and 2010 as quinoa’s virtues of versatility and high protein content spread.

Negative Speculations

Unbeknownst to the public, quinoa production had a direct impact on the levels of poverty in Peru. So, soon after quinoa “took off,” a slew of inflammatory articles in 2013 reprimanded quinoa consumers for raising the demand and price of the nutritious food, which restricted access for poor Andean people.

Poverty in Peru and Bolivia affects over 50 percent of people in the Andean region. Many suffer from lack of education, food insecurity, poor health care and a life expectancy 20 years lower than people in Lima.

Due to conditions in this region, “foreign quinoa consumption is keeping locals from a staple grain” is a serious accusation. However, the popularity of this protein-rich food has provided many economic benefits for the area. A NPR study showed how living conditions drastically improved for people in the Andes during the boom in quinoa sales.

In 2013, the Guardian published an inflammatory article called, “Can Vegans Stomach the Unpalatable Truth About Quinoa?” claiming that fame has driven the prices so high that locals can no longer afford it. The argument seemed sound as poverty in Peru is a major issue. It seemed though, that the Guardian brought up a touchy subject–droves of articles then began cropping up both defending and debunking this argument.

Positive Effects

The good news is that quinoa prices are still within reach for Peruvians. A recent article from NPR explains two different studies focusing on the super grain: one found that the people in quinoa-growing regions, farmer or otherwise, experienced an economic flourishing that favored farmers and generally overcame any additional quinoa costs; the second study focused on quinoa consumption in the Puno region where 80 percent of Peruvian quinoa is grown.

The author of the second study, a Berkeley graduate student, discovered that people in the Puno region consumed a similar amount of the grain without cutting any valuable nutrients from their diets.

While quinoa is culturally important, it is not a staple crop like rice or maize. On average, only between 0.5 and 4 percent of an average Peruvian family’s budget is spent on quinoa–thus the extra cost is not debilitating. In fact, quite the opposite of debilitation occurred: domestic quinoa consumption tripled in 2013.

While the positive economic effects continue to boost the region, there are reasonable concerns about the sustainability or longevity of quinoa production. Demand has caused farmers to decrease the amount of quinoa varieties grown, as well as reduce llama farming which used to provide fertilizer.

Degradation of soil and biodiversity are also risks of extensive quinoa production. Unfortunately, quinoa’s popularity also attracts competitors, and as other countries began to grow the super grain and supply increases, Peruvian demand falls. Prices are sinking, which is great for frugal, health conscious shoppers but very concerning for Bolivian quinoa farmers.

Sustaining Success

While unclear how long benefits will last, quinoa’s popularity proves extremely beneficial towards alleviating rural poverty in Peru and Bolivia. In order to extend the grain’s benefits, some organizations are trying to encourage the sale of more varieties of quinoa to conserve biodiversity and renew interest in South American grown grains.

On the positive side, quinoa has provided some temporary relief for those facing poverty in Peru.

Jeanette I. Burke

Photo: Pixabay

Vida-USA

Vida USA, a nonprofit organization based in the Bay Area of California, brings health aid to Latin America. Volunteers for Inter-American Development Assistance (Vida USA) was founded in 1991 in response to a cholera outbreak traveling from Peru to North America.

In Pamplona Alto, Peru, 40,000 people live in shacks with no running water, toilets or sewage systems. Contaminated dirt roads, where children play with broken toys, are common. These children need vaccinations to enroll in school, but medical supplies and health care are very scarce.

Vida USA collects a surplus of medical supplies from Bay Area hospitals, medical clinics and individual volunteers at its warehouse in Emeryville, California. The medical equipment and medicine are then shipped overseas and used to provide free services for people living in poverty.

“What Vida does is we bring all the supplies and equipment they need on an ongoing basis,” said Vida-USA executive director, Adam See.

The mission of Vida USA is to help provide health aid to Latin America by sending medical supplies to its most vulnerable communities. The organization provides assistance to health institutions, which supports those in need. The non-profit organization accumulates tons of unused, viable medical supplies headed for local landfills and uses them to supply health aid to Latin America.

Another initiative revolves around the HIV virus that “[infects] children in Latin America at an alarming rate,” according to Vida. Many children are infected by their own mother’s breast milk. Milagro de Vida is a program created by Vida USA to provide infant formula to mothers with HIV and educate high school students about HIV causes and effects.

Through its program Puente de Vida, Vida USA organizes groups of volunteer doctors to provide free medical consultations, basic nutrition and pre-natal care, monthly and follow-up visits to address the primary health care needs of communities throughout Peru. The organization’s various programs clearly demonstrate its commitment to creating well-rounded health infrastructure in Peru.

Since 1991, Vida USA has worked with 1,200 health care facilities and social service programs shipping 200 containers, which are worth over $225 million in Latin America, throughout Peru.

Jackie Venuti

Photo: Flickr

reducing poverty

According to the World Bank, one in five people in Latin America are chronically poor.

Brazil, in particular, continues to face economic and political instability which has impacted the country’s ability to fight poverty. “We don’t have data for 2015, but we know there is an important economic crisis, with a recession and unemployment rise, and it is very likely that will negatively impact on poverty numbers,” said Alicia Barcena, head of the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in a Voice of America article.

Regionally, the poverty rate averages 21 percent with some countries recording poverty rates as low as 10 percent (Uraguay, Argentina and Chile) and others like Nicaragua, as high as 50 percent.

However, one of the greatest success stories is Peru, where the poverty rate declined from 54.7 percent in 2001 to 22.7 percent in 2014.

According to World Bank research, there are two key reasons that Peru has seen its poverty rates decrease — economic growth and sound fiscal policies. Much of this growth comes from an increase in exports, particularly of metals like gold and copper.

However, while Peru has been successful at reducing poverty, there are lessons that can also be taken away from its shortcomings. “Leaders must improve their ability to deliver services to the poor. Without improved capacity for quality delivery, even the best policies will mean little to their intended beneficiaries,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Peru needs improvements to its infrastructure and social services, as the gap between rural and urban areas remains significant. The World Bank has helped to address these issues by “supporting the government in improving equity through social services, infrastructure and competitiveness, while continuing to preserve macroeconomic stability”.

It is hoped that other Latin American countries will take a cue from Peru when it comes to reducing poverty and securing sustainable futures for families and communities.

Emily Milakovic

Plant_Lamps
According to the Universidad de Ingenieria y Tecnologia (UTEC), around 40 percent of the rainforest villages in Peru do not have much electricity.

Translation: sundown means lights out. It’s a genuine problem for families and students unless they resort to unhealthy and dangerous kerosene lamps which are bad for eyesight and lungs because of the resulting smoke.

Nature, the geographical isolation of these communities and routine flooding are all part of the problem.

However, researchers and students at UTEC decided to make nature part of the solution. Taking stock of their surroundings, the team used two plants and soil to create “plantalámparas” or plant lamps.

Elmer Ramirez, a professor of Energy and Power Engineering at UTEC, explains, “We can obtain energy from the earth. Based on principles and findings documented in other countries we developed our own prototype, using a clean energy system.”

Ramirez goes on, “Every plant produces nutrients, and these nutrients — in contact with microorganisms in the earth called geobacter — undergo an oxidation process generating free electrons that are captured through electrodes. These electrodes are in a grid. This energy is stored in a conventional battery to be used to light an LED light bulb.”

Each plant lamp unit consists of a planter with an electrode grid buried in the soil, in which a single plant is growing. The electrode grid collects free electrons generated by oxidation processes and stores the energy in a conventional battery, also buried in the soil.

The battery then powers the low-consumption LED lamp, attached to the side of the planter. Each lamp is capable of generating enough power to supply two hours of light per day.

UTEC has partnered with global ad agency FCB Mayo to produce several prototypes for distribution. As of now, ten houses in Nuevo Saposoa have a plant lamp. With such innovation and low production costs, the demand for plant lamps will likely increase.

A promotional video provided by UTEC presents many members of the Nuevo Saposoa community expressing their gratitude. One resident is heard saying, “electricity is life for our children.”

Kara Buckley

Sources: Discovery News, Slate, MIT Technology Review, YouTube
Photo: Vimeo


Reports of Chikungunya Fever are on the rise in Peru, raising concerns at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC has added Peru to the Level One Watch List for Chikungunya Fever, as the disease moves toward epidemic proportions in the country. The Peruvian Ministry of Health is taking precautions to limit the spread of the disease in the country, which may have spread from neighboring countries.

Minister Velasquez of the Peruvian Ministry of Health and Minister Candace Vance of Health Ministry of Ecuador have signed an agreement to jointly fight the disease. This agreement allowed Peru to identify the first indigenous case of Chikungunya Fever.

The Peruvian Ministry of Health of has put together a national plan to combat the disease including a surveillance agency MOH to monitor infectious disease coming across the border. They have also placed an epidemiological fence in areas where the disease is prevalent and spray shops and homes to eradicate the disease.

In partnership with Ecuador, the are closely monitoring outbreak and implementing vector control in areas where the outbreaks arise in. Ecuador has suffered more than 15,000 cases of Chikungunya Fever this year alone.

Across Latin America, rates of mosquito-borne disease are increasing; the joint action plan between Ecuador and Peru marks a first step in interstate cooperation to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

Chikungunya fever, much like malaria, Yellow fever, Typhoid fever and Dengue is spread by the bite of a mosquito. Chikungunya symptoms begin about 3-7 days after being bitten by the Aedes Egypti mosquito.

The symptoms include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle ache, rash or swelling. These symptoms left untreated can severely disable an individual. Symptoms can last anywhere from a week to a month depending on the severity of the case.

Robert Cross

Sources: CDC, EL Universo, Outbreak News Today, PMOH, Peru This Week
Photo: Información desde América Latina

support package for PeruCommissioner Mimica of EU Aid began a voyage to Peru earlier this month on Oct. 9 to announce a support package for the development and health of young adults and children.

The support package for Peru is intended to accelerate the plans of the National Development and Social Inclusion Strategy, which aims to help five regions most affected by poverty in the Peruvian Amazon.

The finalized package suggests 40 million euros ($45.5 million), with a total 66 million euros ($75.1 million) being allocated to Peru between 2014 and 2017. This money will advance the already growing economy of Peru and assist the permanent reduction of poverty that has been reflected since this growth.

However, the solidarity of development has not been established, as about 54 percent still live in poverty and 19 percent live in absolute poverty (less than a dollar a day).

Social Inclusion Strategy will address this unequal growth, favoring those who have not benefited, despite the country’s economic boom. The stratagem prioritizes people into groups based off five core topics:

  1. Childhood Nutrition – focusing on fighting those who lack access to food and water
  2. Early Childhood Development – focusing on the development of infants and young children who do not live in stable conditions
  3. Development of Children and Teenagers – focusing on older children and teens who do not live with a stable family
  4. Economic Inclusion – focusing on incorporating those who have not benefitted from the economy into a better society
  5. Protection of Elders – focusing on poverty-stricken elders who are no longer able to provide for themselves

Furthermore, the developmental gap in the region is ensured to decrease by a three-part approach that focuses on three-time horizons – short, medium and long term.

Temporary relief will bring short term relief to those in extreme poverty while medium term relief promises capacity building such as providing services, and the long-term approach will aid with the creation of opportunities.

In this way, Peru will see a reduction of extreme poverty that substantiates and perpetuates the developmental growth of all priority groups.

MIDIS, the organization overseeing the National Development and Social Inclusion Strategy, defines people who are already in the process of social inclusion as PEPI; PEPI households must meet three of four focal points in order to be given PEPI status:

  1. Rural household
  2. Female-headed Household with less than primary education
  3. Head of house speaks indigenous language
  4. Located in the first quintile of national per capita income distribution

Of these dwellings, 60 percent live between walls of adobe, 84 percent have dirt floors in their homes, 60 percent use wood to cook and 57 percent go without access to sanitation services.

The total number of people living in PEPI households (4.8 million) calculates to about 16 percent of the population. It is estimated by 2030 for the developmental gap to be significantly reduced by the support package for Peru with financial investment to be concluded for Peru in 2017.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: European Commission, GOB, Nations Encyclopedia
Photo: Flickr