On 15-16 October the first meeting took place in Satipo (Junín) of the National Group for the Protection of Rivers (GNPR).  This is an initiative of an NGO grouping composed of the Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Práctica (CAAAP), the Movimiento Ciudadano Frente al Cambio Climático (MOCICC), Cooperacción, Yaku (Red Nacional por el Agua), Red Muqui and Forum Solidaridad Perú (FSP). Also involved were two international NGOs, International Rivers and the Foro Social Panamazónico.

In this first meeting representatives of 18 regions took part, including  representatives from Amazonas, Cajamarca, Cusco, Lima and Loreto.  The intention was to highlight the extent to which almost all rivers in Peru are already contaminated by mining, large construction projects (notably hydroelectric installations) and the chemicals used in much plantation agriculture. The environmental damage has serious consequences for health and for food security.

The government’s own information, via the reports of the Autoridad Nacional del Agua (ANA), shows that practically all of the country’s 159 watershed basins are contaminated.

The group plans to work on raising public awareness about the need to protect the rivers, by influencing policy decisions and strengthening the movements involved. The emphasis at this first meeting was on the interconnected nature of the issues in play.

The conclusions stress the importance of an inter-disciplinary approach to managing and protecting rivers, in contrast to the technocratic approach that characterises public policy. With water supplies under grave threat from glacial melt, recent severe droughts and the huge demands of mining for this precious commodity, it is a policy area that requires more serious attention.