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.
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.
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