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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

Surfing and Tourism Aids Communities in Peru and Nicaragua
WAVES for Development International, founded toward the end of 2004, is a nonprofit organization based in Peru whose mission is to connect tourists and surfers to volunteer opportunities and grassroots initiatives to effectively work together in communities in both Peru and Nicaragua.

One of WAVES commanding principles is to inspire world travel and cultural exchange through surfing as well as spreading social entrepreneurship, healthy living and life skills. WAVES stands for water, adventure, voluntourism, education and sustainability, which encompasses the organization’s five pillars of beliefs and goals.

Water and adventure are associated with the thrill of surfing, something the members of WAVES for Development International live their lives doing. The made up word, voluntourism, captures their goal of connecting tourists with volunteer opportunities to give back to the communities they visit.

These volunteer activities assist locals with education and sustainability, two concepts the organization believes are needed for places to thrive. With the belief that education is highly important in poorer communities, WAVES uses natural and local resources to help developing communities educate their youth and empower them to create bigger and better things.

Another belief they act upon is there are four main aspects to sustainability; ecological, economic, social and political. WAVES’ projects work to assist communities in environmental conservation, safe economic and political practices and to bring the community together as a whole to help with the projects and celebrate their culture.

WAVES connects tourists with volunteer activities in three different categories; surf voluntourism, which allows people to volunteer in surfing communities in Peru and Nicaragua, advocacy and education, where volunteers assist with educating youth to become effective leaders and network of partnerships, in which the volunteerism focuses on the overall convergence of people and organizations who work together to make the world a better place.

The WAVES team consists of volunteers from all over the world, including Spain, South America, Africa and the United States. Team members have come together to assist developing communities in Peru in an effort to bring a new force of individuals to the world.

While the organization was created in Peru and primarily helps communities there and in Nicaragua, WAVES for Development International has recently teamed up with members in and around Montreux, Switzerland to form WAVES Peru and WAVES Switzerland, allowing the two to reach a wider audience and give back to more communities through their shared love of surfing.

Julia Hettiger

Sources: WAVES, Volunteer Match, Great Nonprofits
Photo: Flickr

peru
Poverty rates in Peru have dropped significantly over the past four years. Specifically, extreme poverty rates among those with non-social assistance-based income have dropped from 32.8 percent to 24.1 percent in the poorest, most rural parts of the country. While Peru has faced its fair share of challenges, progress is being made.

Ana Revenga, the Senior Director of the Poverty Reduction Unit of the World Bank, recently stated that Peru’s economic growth and poverty reduction is one of the best in the region. Revenga explained, “The significant and sustained growth of the Peruvian GDP benefited the poorest, which resulted in a decrease in inequality.”

These impressive economic improvements throughout the country have come as a result of a major collective effort. In particular, a variety of social initiatives have proven to be key in combating extreme poverty and inequality.

Programs like the National Strategy for Development and Social Inclusion — or “Incluir para Crecer” — are working to close gaps in available public services. Perhaps even more importantly, this type of social program works to expand exclusive economic growth that neglects to help those suffering most severely.

As the country strives to continue moving forward, additional programs like Juntos and Pension 65 will be offering support to Peru’s poorest population. These programs will be working to ensure the longevity of recent improvements in the economic and living conditions of the extremely poor.

The Juntos program has directly contributed to the reduction in child malnutrition under the country’s current government. Within the framework of the program, conditional transfers of state subsidy guarantee good health and growth for unborn and young children alike.

Amongst Peru’s rural population, child chronic malnutrition has declined from 37 percent to 28.8 percent. At the national level, it has dropped from 19.5 percent from just four years ago to 14 percent in 2015. This number is encouragingly close to the 10 percent target set for the end of the current administration period.

The country’s Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, Paola Bustamante recently stated that since 2012, there has been over $1 billion invested in these types of social programs.

She explained that all social programs are implemented under a performance-based budgeting framework, which prevents funds from being used for other purposes besides social programs.

However, despite the above mentioned critical steps in the right direction, Peru is still facing its fair share of structural challenges. In early July 2015,  the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development requested that Peru review and reorganize its denomination of rural and urban regions.

Such obstacles have not significantly curtailed the rates of improvement in poverty reduction and inequality, however. In fact, Bustamante Suarez, another government official, has assured the public that current social inclusion policy will most definitely be continued by subsequent administrations.

Strategically targeted social initiatives will continue to level the economic playing field. As explained by Suarez, these programs will continuously work to close basic services gaps, thus improving the living conditions of the poor population. Peru still has a long road ahead, but leaders are confident that it will come out on top.

– Sarah Bernard

Sources: Andina, Peru This Week
Photo: Peace and Hope International

kidnap_rescue_mission
Despite the state’s success in decapitating a major terrorist organization in Peru 30 years ago, many victims are still being rescued from captivity today. This includes a kidnap rescue mission by the Peruvian army, which took place just this past July.

The army of the Peruvian state rescued 39 people from a farm where some of them have been held there for 30 years after being kidnapped. Others, children now, were born within the confines of their captivity. These individuals were all victims of the terror that reigned over Peru from the Shining Path, or as it is called in Peru, Sendera Luminoso.

The Shining Path was an infamous and extremely destructive terrorist and politically radical group, responsible for the death of thousands of Peruvians over the years, as well as the disappearance of many innocent people. Despite the state’s ability to end the group’s terror in 1992, when the leader Abimael Guzman was taken down, these victims were not released until over 20 years after the dismantlement of the organization.

The victims found within the walls of these particular farms, which are labeled “production camps”, were primarily children. Many were kidnapped from rural areas and forced to work in these camps. They were to do agricultural work in the fields, as well as procreate with other captives.

Unfortunately, there are many cases in which the Shining Path still leaves its mark and affects those still living in Peru today. The government of the country is making an effort to permanently wipe out any impact the terrorist group continues to make, starting with these camps that are still in existence, hidden throughout the jungles and rural areas of the country.

Alexandrea Jacinto

Sources: Inside the World, BBC
Photo: The Independent

poverty_in_peru
An avid world traveler, there is nothing I love more than exploring new places and experiencing cultures that are vastly different from my own. On my latest adventure, I spent two weeks roaming around the South American country of Peru. Although best known for its well-preserved Inca ruins and lovable llama population, I learned that there are many dimensions of Peru that the average tourist does not see. The spirit of the Peruvian people struck me at many moments during my visit, but here I offer up five things that I learned during my travels that I find particularly revealing.

1. Rural poverty is rampant

Although government statistics report that only a third of the Peruvian population lives below the national poverty line, about 8 million people still qualify as poor. As I traveled from town to town in buses and taxis, time and time again I was forced to think about how much better the average living conditions of Americans are in comparison. Poverty in Peru is deepest among indigenous people living in remote rural areas. In fact, the national rural poverty rate is over 50 percent, with 20 percent of people in the Andean region considered extremely poor. This was evident in the villages in the mountains I passed through; they looked almost abandoned, with people living in huts, little modern technology and often no electricity.

2. Everything is cheap

For American tourists, this is not a bad thing. Currently, one Peruvian Nuevo Sol is equivalent to approximately $3.15 (USD), making purchasing hotels and food throughout Peru a breeze for thrifty college students like myself. Although I enjoyed the benefit of this exchange rate, it reflects a sad truth about the Peruvian economy. The average GDP per capita is $5,000 (USD), a sum that the majority of Americans can barely imagine earning in a month or two in order to make ends meet.

3. People are desperate

Every time I would visit a notable tourist site, I was swarmed by locals selling knock-off goods, badly reproduced “Peruvian artifacts” and women dressed in traditional garb with llamas, trying to charge money to take a photo with them. It seemed all fun and games at first, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that these were the actions of desperate people. Clearly these individuals are in need, as they are making a mockery of their own culture in order to make a couple sols – usually just a dollar or less.

4. Despite their poverty, the people are helpful

You might expect an impoverished population to lie and steal in order to make ends meet – this is the stereotype that many Americans adopt when visiting foreign countries. I, however, kept an open mind when I arrived in Peru, and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the conduct of the people I encountered. I did not feel like I was lied to or cheated at any time on my trip. On the contrary, everyone I encountered was extremely willing to help me. From the customs official who gave me restaurant suggestions to the cab driver who pulled over several times to ask locals on the street where my hostel was located, to the woman selling rice who told me to move my cell phone from my pocket to a safer place, I was met with incredible kindness.

5. More than helpful, the people are happy 

Although the poverty in Peru was evident in many of the towns that I visited, also evident was the spirit of the Peruvian people. At no time during my trip did it seem that individuals in the towns were unhappy with their situation. Children played soccer, elders sat on the porches and watched the world go by, and those giving my friend and me tours for reasonable sums were passionate about the landscapes of their country. This was perhaps the most inspiring for me, for even without wealth the people of Peru are able to live fulfilling lives and be generous and welcoming to those around them, even foreigners. It is these kinds of people that are worthy of help, and it is important to remember that people in poverty are not much different from you and me.

– Katharine Pickle

Sources: Rural Poverty Portal, CIA
Photo: Pulsa Merica

Water-Billboards
Receiving only a half-inch of precipitation annually, the 7.6 million residents of Lima, Peru are in the midst of a serious water shortage. One point two million Limans do not have running water at all, and 700,000 people have no access to clean water for drinking or bathing. With advanced climate change affecting the natural water sources of the Andes, engineers from Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) have turned to science, and specifically water billboards, for an answer.

Like a magician pulls a rabbit from a hat, they’ve figured out a way to pull water from thin air.

The process of scientific magic occurs inside a billboard in Lima’s Bujama District, erected by a group of UTEC engineers in partnership with marketers from the Mayo Publicidad ad agency. The billboard takes advantage of Lima’s high degree of humidity, nearly 90 percent in the summer months, and transforms this moisture into usable water.

When moist air hits the billboard, five condensers cool it and convert it into liquid form. The newly created water goes through reverse-osmosis purification and then flows into a 20-liner storage tank at the billboard’s base. The filtration system is simple and straightforward, though not entirely self-sufficient, because it uses electricity from Lima’s power lines.

Active for 3 months, the billboard has had a significant effect. It has produced nearly 2,500 gallons of water, averaging 26 gallons a day. According to the UTEC engineers involved, this is equivalent to the water consumption of hundreds of families per month.

Efforts have been made in the past to magically pull water from the air. Most notably Eole, a French company, installed a wind turbine in Abu Dhabi that was said to generate more than 370 gallons of water a day. The commercial launch of this technology, however, came at too high of a price.

That’s the genius of UTEC’s water billboard – if the technology expands, it will be inexpensive to install thanks to funding from advertisers. The inaugural billboard costs only $1,200 to construct, and advertises both UTEC and the technology itself. UTEC has not gone unrewarded, since the erection of the billboard enrollment has substantially increased. It hopes that companies will see UTEC’s own results and seek to advertise on water billboards themselves.

It is unclear whether more billboards like this one will be installed throughout Lima, but UTEC’s water billboard has successfully started new discussions about providing clean water. Advertising can be more than a commercial tool; it has potential as an effective method of helping those in need.

– Katie Pickle

Sources: Popular Mechanics, Time
Photo: Fast Coexist

paran_blind
Paran is a small community that rests at the foothills of the Andes in Lima, Peru. It is an isolated little area surrounded by mountains and home to only 300 people, and one in eight of those people are blind.

The unusual rate of blindness in Paran was discovered about two years ago when a mining company sent a team of doctors to the area as an outreach effort. Most of the Paranos had never visited a doctor before then, and therefore had no one to report the condition to although they understood it was abnormal.

The blind and their families were hoping for treatment or glasses to cure the affliction but they were given an even more complicated prognosis. Doctors found that the condition was caused by a genetic mutation in the X chromosome. This means that women can carry it, but men are more likely to express symptoms.

The condition works by knocking out cells in the retina like pixels in a screen. Victims experience blurriness in their vision that gradually worsens until all sight is lost. Onset takes place between the ages of 10 and 40 and the ability to see at night is lost early on.

While the discovery of the disease, named retinitis pigmentosa, was a breakthrough for the people of Paran whose ancestors have dealt with the condition for over a hundred years, many feel that they were given life-changing information and then abandoned.

The discovery of the disease two years ago brought a lot of attention to the area by doctors and journalists alike. When the doctors left and Paran became yesterday’s news, the people were left without a cure and a bad reputation. What was once known as a village with sweet peaches became the town of the blind.

Even to this day the people of Paran carry a stigma and are treated as outcasts by the surrounding areas. They are unwanted out of fear of contaminating other populations and told to move far away if they choose to leave their community. The women of Paran are avoided as spouses out of fear they may pass the disease onto their children.

However, despite what may seem like bleak circumstances, the Paranos persist with amazing vigor. With no government assistance or facilities fit to accommodate blindness, the men in the area prepare for a life of darkness before total blindness sets in. People like Lorenzo, an elderly man with nobody to care for him, make the two-hour trek up and down the rocky hills they live on to the village center every day on their own.

Another man named Agapito Mateo and his two brothers are all blind. Agapito is a pastor and a farmer who never stopped tending to his peaches after losing his sight. He thanks God for his ability to continue working but insists that those less fortunate need government assistance. Meanwhile, people like Agapito work to uphold the reputation that Paran may be home to a good number of blind men, but they also grow really sweet peaches.

– Edward Heinrich

Sources: Oscar Durand, PRI, YouTube

President Ollanta Humala announced a change in the drug policy. Placing on hold the forcible eradication of coca plants in the Vrae area, a valley noted for its cocaine production from the coca plant, Humala has pushed forward the policy of crop substitutions.

The announcement follows the dismissal of the president’s drug czar, Carmen Masias. The decision signals a reversal in Peru’s approach to the drug production in the Vrae region. Earlier this year, Masias had announced a joint effort of militarized eradication that would be half-funded by the United States.

The previous policy was heavily opposed by the farmers in the region, resulting in protests and threats of resistance. Critics of the policy stated that such efforts would only serve to benefit Shining Path rebels by turning the coca plant growers against the authorities.

The coca plant functions as the region’s only cash crop and many livelihoods are dependent upon the plant. In 2013, the government eradicated 23,947 hectares (One hectare is approximately equal to 10,000 square meters,) a quantity that made little difference once farmers quickly replanted new coca plants.

The valley contains approximately 12,000 families dependent on the coca plant and 300 labs that produce semi-refined cocaine, as well as comprising 54 percent of Peru’s total coca crop production.

Humala has committed $214 million to building roads to help the region ship alternative crops to markets. In addition, the government hopes to reduce the chemicals required to manufacture cocaine.

Although the Vrae region will no longer see forcible eradication, the policy will continue in other parts of Peru. The government aims to eradicate 23,000 hectares in 2014, a decrease from the original goal of 30,000 hectares.

In 2012, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration named Peru the largest cocaine producer, surpassing other cocaine producing countries such as Colombia and Bolivia.

As a component of the U.S. drug war, Peru received $100 million from the U.S. government to combat drug production — half of the U.S. aid that is provided to Peru.

The changing policy of Peru may indicate a growing sentiment in Latin America toward the ravages of the drug war.

Uruguay has become the first Latin American country to legalize marijuana and Bolivia utilizes a voluntary reduction program. Guatemala and Colombia also have been backing changes to the drug policy despite few actual changes to policy.

Critics of the drug war condemn the innocent loss of life that has resulted from the war. Colombia has lost over 15,000 lives, many innocent victims, over the course of its 20-year drug war.

In addition, many believe the influx of funds that are used to combat cartels and drug production could be better used to reduce poverty. For many of the farmers that grow the coca plant, its production is the only crop that provides enough funds to survive.

– William Ying

Sources: Associated Press, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal 1,
Photo: The Economist

Education in Nicaragua
A brief description of Peruvian society is important to understanding the current state of education in Peru. Discussed below are key facts about Peruvian society.

  • The general population is around 30 million
  • 22 percent of the population lives in rural areas
  • 25.8 percent of the population lives in poverty at $2 a day (PPP)
  • According to the GINI Index, Peru ranks 25th for highest income inequality in the world
  • 85 percent of the population has improved drinking water sources
  • The unemployment rate is 9.5 percent
  • 34 percent of children ages 5 to 17 work in the labor force
  • The literacy rate is 90 percent
  • The main exports are minerals like gold and copper
  • 2.7 percent of the GDP is spent on health care

It is apparent that Peru has developed in some areas better than others. To see more comprehensive information on Peru, as well as country comparisons, go to the CIA World Factbook.

 

A Closer Look: Education in Peru

 

The system of education in Peru is somewhat similar to that of the United States. It has basic education (ages 3 to 5 years old), primary (ages 6 to 11 years old) and secondary (ages 12 to 16 years old), all of which are free. However school is only mandatory from ages 6 to 16 years old. There is higher education, but it is not mandatory or free, however, they do have scholarship programs.

Education in Peru has been expanding. The numbers were not all together low to begin with, but since 2005, enrollment has increased to 72 percent for ages 3 to 5 years old; the 6 to 11-year-old age group is at 97 percent and the 12 to 16-year-old age group is at 91 percent enrollment. However, these numbers do not tell the whole story. As stated earlier, 34 percent of children ages 5 to 17 are in the labor force. How can so many be working and going to school at the same time? It would seem that children may be enrolled at school, but do not actually go. Enrollment rates do not equal attendance rates.

Data taken from the National Institute of Statistics shows that since 1994, spending on education has quadrupled. However, Peru only spends 2.8 percent of the gross domestic product on education, which is one of the lowest in the world. It is hopeful to see the increase in spending over such a short period of time, but it is clear the Peruvian government can spend more on education.

There are problems with educating the indigenous population, as bilingual education is often not funded. Almost 46 percent of indigenous students are not provided education in their native language. Problems also arise when trying to educate the rural population. It is often hard for rural students, especially girls, to get to a school, as they come from isolated areas.

One of the biggest reasons Peru might spend more on education is the quality. In 2009, the Program of International Student Assessment ranked Peru near the bottom of the 65 countries studied for reading comprehension and science, while being second to last in math. Spending money is not enough by itself though. Money can be spent in productive ways. For example, in 2012, the government spent $225 million on 850,000 laptops and gave them to schools all over the country. The American Development Bank found that this laptop program did not increase the students’ levels in math or reading.

For children 7 years of age, only 13 percent reached required math levels and only 30 percent reached required reading levels. The laptops did not increase motivation or time spent reading and completing homework assignments.

Since 2003, the number of students at private universities has doubled and in public universities it has increased by 12 percent. This substantial increase in private education shows that the more privileged students are gaining access to higher education. As public university is not free, it is harder for those without money to access it. This makes sense considering Peru has one of the highest income inequalities in the world.

On the surface, it seems as though education in Peru has improved over the last decade. Literacy and enrollment rates are up as well as educational spending. However, when you look deeper, the quality and equal access to education is another story entirely. Increasing spending on education is a must, but investment in education needs to be done properly by way of researching effective policies, government organization, institutional change and societal support.

– Eleni Marino

Sources: UNESCO, CIA, Iberoamerican Universities Universia, INEI, Peru This Week, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, IPS News, The Economist, ICEF, UNICEF
Photo: Friends of Chimbote