Poverty in Peru Rural
Peru is home to sections of the Amazon rainforest, the Andes mountains and sites of the former Incan empire, which was the largest empire in pre-Columbus America. Although colonial architecture such as Machu Picchu and the infamous llamas attract tourists, poverty in Peru is devastating. Nearly 1.2 million Peruvians, 3.8 percent of the population, lived in extreme poverty in 2016.

The Peruvian economy continues to suffer from the devastating floods and landslides that have wreaked havoc across the country, and the central bank’s economic activity index fell to its lowest level in eight years. Currently, $1 is equivalent to 3.25 Peruvian Sol. This benefits American tourists seeking cheap food and accommodations but harms the Peruvian people.


Poverty in Peru Disproportionately Affects Rural Areas


Poverty in Peru runs deepest amongst the indigenous population living in remote rural areas. Peru is divided into 25 sections, and five of these are home to 45% of indigenous Peruvians: Apurimac, Ayacucho, Cuzco, Huancavelica and Puno.

The poorest areas are in the Andean Highlands, where a large majority of the indigenous Quechua and Aymara populations are living below the poverty line. Many of these communities are located in remote and isolated regions, so the quality and quantity of material and human resources are inadequate.

Rural poverty in Peru has led the indigenous populations to suffer disproportionately compared to the populations that live in urbanized areas.

In 2009, UNICEF calculated that 78% of children whose first language was Quechua or Aymara lived in poverty, compared to 40% of those whose mother tongue was Spanish. UNICEF also reported that only 32% of indigenous children between three and five attend school, with the number being 55% for non-indigenous children.

This data shows that the rural poverty in Peru has roots in high rates of illiteracy, particularly in women who make up a majority of the family income, and a lack of essential services such as education and electrical power.

In the last decade, there has been a drop in poverty in Peru, which has led to seven million Peruvians who are no longer poor.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Flickr

Alpacas in the Andes
Who would have thought that an alpaca would be essential to life? Well, to the indigenous tribes in the Andes Mountains, they are. But, with extremely freezing temperatures and adverse weather conditions in the winter, alpacas in the Andes are dying off in large numbers.

Secluded from most life and with little government help, “the indigenous communities living high up in the Andes … are some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Peru.”

These desperate and cold Peruvians rely on alpacas for many of their daily necessities, including transportation to the market, wool for warmth, milk and cheese for nutrition and manure for fuel. Losing thousands of alpacas in the Andes is a devastating reality that the Peruvians are starting to grasp.

The weather has been so terrible in some parts of the Andes, killing tens of thousands of alpacas, that the government declared a state of emergency. Even children have been dying from the abnormal cold front. Ignacio Beneto Huamani, an Andes Peruvian, stated, “If the alpaca die, then we all die.”

Bringing hope and technological solutions to the Andes Mountains, nongovernmental organization Practical Action is working with the communities to try and protect the alpacas and, therefore, Peruvians’ lives.

There are three ways that Practical Action is working to protect the alpacas in the Andes.

1. Shelters

Building shelters from local materials is an easy way that alpacas can escape the cold and hopefully death. Trusting that sheltering more alpacas from the elements will save more, some shelters store up to 50 alpacas at once.

2. Nutrition

Keeping the alpacas in the Andes fed properly is another major concern. When the winter storms hit, most vegetation dies off. That which is left is usually used to feed the children and weak community members. Since the alpacas are necessary for humans’ wellbeing, this is a vicious circle.

Practical Action has introduced a way to grow blocks of barley for the alpacas. In a simple two-week process, barley grains are planted in a trough of water, exposed to sunlight and kept hydrated. Then the barley grains are formed into blocks, which are fed to the alpacas to help them recover their strength.

3. Veterinarians

Since most alpaca owners are not high-class doctors, they are not sure how to treat different diseases that the alpacas can contract. Practical Action has trained over 35 farmers to be aware of the different diseases and how to treat them. These basic veterinary skills are essential if the Peruvians want to try and salvage their alpacas in the Andes.

These three techniques that Practical Action is using are already helping some communities save their precious livestock. A local alpaca farmer, Emilio Chalco Valladares, said that “we save much time because we have the knowledge ourselves and diseases don’t spread. Animals don’t die anymore.”

With more support and training, hopefully, one day soon alpacas in the Andes will thrive again.

Sydney Missigman

Photo: Flickr

In the United States, the first image of Peru that might come to mind is Machu Picchu or an equally stunning mountainous view. Stereotypes aside, those sorts of natural monuments mask the growing economy and standard of living in Peru.

Peru was listed as the 20th most free economy in the world as of 2015, progressing slightly slower than Chile, its southern neighbor. This is due to the decreasing value of copper, gold, silver and other major exports in Peru.

One characteristic of economic growth in poorer countries is that eventually places of historical and cultural values will begin to be preserved even at the expense of population growth or economic growth. For example, a new highway project in Lima was altered in order to prevent the destruction of a historical site.

Due to this growth, Peru is now in a sweet spot where the standard of living is decently high and the cost of living is low. Outside of Lima, $2,000 per month would cover one’s basic expenses. While living in Peru, international supermarkets cost more than grocery shopping at a local market. Interestingly enough, going out to eat at local restaurants often costs even less than shopping and cooking for oneself. You can get a three-course meal for three dollars at a local Picanteria.

One source puts costs of Peru and the United States against each other, and overall, consumer prices in Peru are 45.61% lower than in the United States. Paying rent is 60.37% lower than in the U.S. and paying for groceries is 50.71% lower than in the U.S. Living in Peru makes it easy to stick to a budget.

For anyone looking to retire in Peru, it’s possible to do so at $500 per month, though this makes extremely frugal living necessary. However, Peru is still one of the least expensive places to live in South America and one of the nicest.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr

Peru is a South American nation known for the immense beauty of its sites like Machu Picchu, a burgeoning food scene and the rich history of the Incan empire. In recent decades, Peru has recovered from a civil war and has been heralded as an economic miracle for reducing poverty by more than half in little over a decade. However, Peru still faces many serious challenges in relation to poverty that create refugees and internally displaced people. To better understand these issues here are 10 facts about Peru refugees.

  1. Illegal logging in the Peruvian Amazon is a serious problem connected to displacement. An estimated 80 percent of all Peruvian timber is illegally exported to black markets. The former Chief of Peru’s Forest Inspection Agency became a refugee after his increasingly successful policing of the illegal logging industry caused him to receive numerous death threats and eventually flee Peru.
  2. In the ’80s, Maoist terrorist group, Sendero Luminoso, waged a brutal war against the government. Gross human rights violations committed by both parties destabilized the country and left half a million people internally displaced. Many of Peru’s poorest people are refugees from the civil war who lost everything they owned after leaving the countryside and never recovered.
  3. Environmental changes, such as drought and shortened growing seasons, have caused a wave of “climate refugees” in Peru. In Huancayo, the shrinking of a large glacier that irrigates the region’s fields has led to large amounts of migration. As altitude increases in the region so does the probability that changing weather patterns will cause displacement.
  4. Although Peru has its own challenges of adequately settling internally displaced people, it has opened its doors to neighbors both near and far with initiatives to streamline processes to receive Syrian refugees and the creation of nearly 6,000 visas for Venezuelans to escape the current crisis.
  5. Since a great majority of Peru’s most vulnerable refugees from the countryside move to nearby cities and urban centers, displaced beyond Peru’s borders rarely occurs, and as a result, the problem is often ignored by the media and international organizations.
  6. Peruvian migrants have led a food revolution spanning from the U.S. to the United Arab Emirates. Dishes like ceviche and aji de gallina are new favorites of food critics. Michelin Star rated chef Virgilio Martinez is widely considered one of the greatest chefs in the world. He recalls that the instability of Lima in the ’90s led to him starting his cooking career outside of Peru.
  7. In April 2017, flooding in northern Peru caused one of the country’s largest displacements of people. Up to 173,000 people were left homeless and 1.1 million in need of assistance. The International Organization for Migration is advocating for the U.N.’s emergency response program, Flash Appeal, to be allocated $38.3 million in additional funding to help in the building of shelters and refugee camps in Piura.
  8. Formal property rights and land titles are urgently needed for Peru’s indigenous population to avoid displacement. Indigenous groups are allocated land by the state, but the government allows multinational corporations to drill on those lands without the consent of the community. Environmental degradation has led to the loss of employment, resources and health in these communities.
  9. Land grabbing is a common practice in Peru. Often a large foreign corporation will illegally buy areas of land and dispossess its inhabitants of access to resources that the community’s livelihood depends on. Sustainable NGO GRAIN compiled almost 500 current cases from the public record of illegal land appropriation.
  10. Issues relating to displaced people in Peru are handled by the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, which began a process of both individual and group reparations for displaced people in 2013.

These 10 facts about Peru refugees not only demonstrate the important steps to resettle or compensate many of its refugees from its civil war, but also the challenges that lay ahead. The government has not addressed many current factors that continue to displace people, ranging from environmental problems to a lack of property rights.

Peru must empower its citizens, in particular its displaced people, by giving them a right to participate more fully in the democratic process or its refugee problem will not be resolved.

Jared Gilbert

Photo: Flickr

Education in Peru
Pluspetrol, a private multinational gas distribution and power generation company, has granted access to its own company-sponsored educational programs for more than 200 young children in Bajo Urubamba, the lower region of the Urubamba province in Peru. The company’s Peruvian branch works largely in and around the Urubamba province and has contributed an estimated $100,000 to education in Peru.

Pluspetrol’s program, Programa Integral de Educación (PIE), offers scholarships to young Peruvians who live near the company’s Camisea Gas Project, which extracts and transports natural gas around the Urubamba River. The company intends to focus on participation in high school and university-level programs to improve the accessibility of education in Peru.

PIE has been divided into three separate scholarship programs:

  1. Becas NopokiThis is a scholarship awarding full payment of tuition fees to exceptional students at the Universidad Católica Sedes Sapientiae. It specifically targets students who display enthusiasm in the fields of management, agricultural engineering or any combination of basic bilingual literacy. Through this scholarship, all courses are taught in the native language of the participating students. This provision includes the Peruvian dialects of Machiguenga, Yine and Asháninka to ensure indigenous populations do not feel alienated from the education system in Peru.
  2. Programa 100This program focuses on students in their final two years of elementary and high school, respectively. The curriculum of Programa 100 focuses on developing skills in reading and in mathematical reasoning. Each year, this program helps approximately 75 school-aged children improve their academic skills and various options for higher education in Peru.
  3. Becas Pre-UniversitariasThis program supports secondary school students in their senior year of high school in their transition to university. This program gives students hands-on experience outside of the classroom and attempts to prepare them for the future. It takes students beyond the classroom and prepares them for Universidad Católica Sedes Sapientiae.

These scholarships are meant to provide children in Urubamba with the necessary skills for a university level education. So far, all three programs have been incredibly successful and have made it possible for 90 percent of PIE scholarship applicants to gain access to general tertiary education as well as agrarian engineering, administration and intercultural basic bilingual education courses.

Jaime Viens

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Peru
Water quality in Peru is a major problem. According to, 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

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

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