Surviving Climate Change in the Peruvian Andes

Update 119. 31 January 2007

Anyone who has been to the Andes can be in no doubt that highland farmers have been bearing extreme weather conditions for centuries. But will the effects of climate change now make it impossible for them to survive?

Peru's delicate ecosystem means it is at risk of producing climate change refugees. Migration in Peru is already at an unsustainable level with more than a third of the population living in the over populated capital Lima.

Changes in weather patterns, lack of water and ever degrading soils make life even harder and unsustainable for highland farmers. In the Ayacucho region CEDAP works with over 1000 families in 60 communities to improve living conditions and restore the damage done to their natural resources.

Alpaca farmer Elias Quichca Jayo says 'The weather used to be good, we had enough water and no ice. It's changed now, it's colder [in spells]. There's not enough water for the crops and the pastureland isn't the same. The soil doesn't keep the water that does come so it's being wasted'

Elias received training on different farming techniques. He shared this knowledge with his community. Families compete over a 6 month period to make the most changes. The winners receive a cash prize provided by CEDAP and the local government. According to this combination of training, sharing successful examples and motivation really works. As a result, families like Elias can make massive changes with relatively little help.

Families learn to combat the impacts of climate change by building shelters to protect alpacas from the increasing cold spells. Building dams, reservoirs and slow release ditches allow them to use rain water in a more efficient way. 'This all means I have bigger healthier alpacas and the wool and the meat bring better prices. Before 6-8 [alpaca] babies would die straight away. Now none of them have died, they used to die without any shelter'

Farmers are also finding ways of improving their standard of living without damaging the environment. Ever Cancho built his family an energy-efficient oven and an adobe eco-fridge. 'We made bricks of adobe and built them like the fridge I had seen with CEDAP. It was worth all the work because it let us keep our food longer'.

These changes increase the family income. They help highland farmers find ways to adapt to climate change. And they ensure that less people are forced to migrate to the cities to find a way to feed their families.

CEDAP is supported by Christian Aid and Oxfam GB.

 

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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