Poverty in LimaThe World Bank defines Peru as a country having upper-middle income, yet its capital city, Lima, is not free from the woes of poverty. With a population of more than 10 million, Lima is affected by a large income discrepancy and is susceptible to many natural disasters. To fully understand the circumstances, here are 10 facts about poverty in Peru’s capital:

10 Facts About Poverty in Lima

  1. The rate of poverty in Lima is currently 13.3 percent, which is 2.3 percent higher than the rate in 2016. However, compared to other Peruvian urban regions, Lima’s spike in the poverty rate is the lowest.
  2. Peru has an extreme poverty rate of 3.8 percent, which is defined as the inability to purchase a basket of basic food and beverages. However, this rate is only 0.7 percent in Lima, a lower number than the 1.2 percent prevalent in other urban areas of Peru.
  3. Lima’s slowing economic activity can be attributed to political turmoil. President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who was elected in 2016, was succeeded by Martin Vizcarra in early 2018 amidst allegations of corruption. Big banks, such as JP Morgan, claim that this “political noise” has made it difficult for investors to trust businesses in the region.
  4. While malnutrition continues to be a problem in Peru, Lima combatting this occurrence through community kitchens. Such kitchens provide food to half a million people in Lima alone and is organized by the local effort of over 100,000 women. These kitchens are a big part of Peru’s efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition.
  5. Another fact about poverty in Lima is that there is a large income disparity, which has led to problems with access to clean water. While the rich have cheap water pumped into their homes, the poor pay almost ten times more for water to be delivered by lorries.
  6. Lima has to cope with heavy rainfall and floods due to its coastal location. These are often responsible for destroying most of the infrastructure, which was the case with the most recent flood — dubbed “coastal El Nino” — that inflicted $3.1 billion worth of damage. Lima, like many other coastal cities, had to share the burden, which was approximately 0.5 percent of Peru’s GDP in 2017. These natural disasters make it harder for residents to break out of the poverty cycle by capitalizing on infrastructure.
  7. Lima’s geography also poses as a restriction for city expansion. The city is a desert strip bounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Andes and three valleys. There is hence limited space available to build infrastructure and increase efficiency.
  8. Lima had a high employment rate of 93.4 percent in 2017. Of the employed population, however, 34.3 percent were still underemployed, suggesting that many did not have a job matching their skill level. Interestingly, Lima has experienced a 0.5 percent decrease in unemployment.
  9. Another important fact about poverty in Lima is that the divide between the rich and the poor has led to the rise of several squatter settlements, called “pueblos jovenes” (young towns) or “barriadas” (shantytowns). Currently, over 35 percent of Lima’s population lives in such squatter settlements.
  10. Despite many challenges, Lima’s residents are well-educated. About ninety-eight percent of the population older than 15 years are educated, of which 43 percent have higher education from post-secondary institutions.

Capital Progress

Although Peru itself faces several issues related to poverty, Lima has found ways to ameliorate the conditions and overcome difficulties. In the changing political and economic landscape of Lima, residents prove that there is both hope and a means to achieve such statuses. These 10 facts about poverty in Lima are but a testament to this city-wide occurrence.

– Sanjana Subramanian
Photo: Flickr


There are various organizations and associations in Peru that fight for the eradication of poverty and the betterment of the country by providing the citizens with opportunities and help.

According to an article published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), or Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo (PNUD in Spanish), in 2009 the national average incidence of extreme poverty in Peru was 11.5%.

Different organizations such as Solaris Perú, Traperos de Emaus San Agustin, APRODE PERÚ, Cáritas del Perú and the American organization CARE, with their Peruvian location, fight to address poverty in their communities with different approaches, depending on the organization.

5 Peruvian Organizations Fighting Poverty

1) Solaris Perú

This is a nonprofit organization based in Peru that has the mission to end poverty. Solaris Perú focuses on the creation of programs that create better the community, such as the implementation of educational models that create positive change for children.

This organization collaborates on political, social and technical dimensions in order to have an efficient use of the resources that will provide positive results to Peruvian communities.

2) Traperos de Emaus San Agustin

This is a Peruvian organization that gives a function to objects that are no longer in use or thrown away. The purpose of this organization is to give these functional objects to people that are in need in order for them to have improvements in their life.

The recovery of these disused but still functional objects creates sustenance in the community and improves the development of their social activities. The organization accepts donations that help to provide assistance and support to people that are living in extreme poverty conditions.


This organization works toward improving and developing the country. They fight to eradicate poverty and provide assistance to the ones in most need.

They create programs and projects that contribute with the social, cultural, and economical development of the communities that are living poor areas. They create encounters with the Peruvian government in order to promote their causes and raise awareness of the conditions that poor people live in.

4) Cáritas del Perú

This is a Peruvian Catholic organization that promotes and encourages the creation of programs that favor poor communities in Peru in order to provide them with opportunities and better development.

Their mission is to support these poor communities by providing charity and solidarity service that, with compromise, leads to the transformation of the society by implementing christian principles.

5) CARE Peru

The Peruvian location of this American organization creates programs that serve to empower poor communities in Peru to exercise their rights. These programs work to empower women, indigenous groups and rural populations.

This organization helps to increase household income, reduce malnutrition, bring educational improvements, and improve access to water and sanitation, among others.

According to the UNDP, eight out of 10 people living in extreme poverty conditions in Peru live in rural areas. These Peruvian organizations use different approaches in order to eradicate poverty in both urban and rural areas.

– Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: PNUD, Caritas del Peru, Aprode Peru, Traperos De Emaus San Agustin, Solaris Peru, Care
Photo: Flickr

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