Climate change puts millions of Peruvians at risk of food insecurity

09 December 2013

Climate change threatens the food security of 5 million people in Peru, according to a new UN report. The study of human development also finds that areas that have seen the greatest gains over the last decade are zones in which incomes have increased due to illegal mining and coca production, while a tenth of Peruvian districts have seen declines or stagnation.

The UNDP 2013 Human Development Report for Peru, 'Climate Change and Land: Challenges and solutions for a sustainable future', was published at the end of November. It judges human development by life expectancy, educational achievement and national income per capita.

Seven of the ten districts with highest human development are mining areas. However the report notes that high-tech extractive industries still do not “create significant value chains at the local and regional scale and translate into structural changes in health and education.” The Cusco district of Chumbivilcas has been the recipient of corporate responsibility programmes by mining company Xstrata, but remains among the bottom 20 districts in the country. A lack of state support is said to be the cause of lagging human development in mountainous and jungle regions.

The report highlights a striking disparity between the lowest ranking district, Chugay in La Libertad, where per capita income is only slightly over US$1 per day, and the highest, with residents of Miraflores in Lima earning approximately US$19 a day (103 and 1589 soles per month respectively).

It also warns that environmental damage could undermine development gains and emphasises Peru’s high degree of vulnerability to climate change. Most exposed are subsistence farmers who rely on rainfall, patterns of which are already changing. In the northern central sierra, the food security of more than 5 million people is at risk from increasing frosts and droughts that will affect agriculture and livestock. The report advises Peru to create a national council on food security.

In an international survey of educational achievement, Peru has been ranked bottom across reading, maths and science of all 65 countries. The official PISA survey for 2012 was published at the start of December 2013.

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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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