Water scarcity in the highlands of Peru is the main cause of rural poverty. It generates recurrent drought similar to Northeast of Brasil or the desertification of the Sahara. This condition, coupled with the ravages of climate change, subdues the peasants of this lands to subsistence farming and with low efficiency.
To address this situation, most public policies have focused their efforts to build irrigation canals fed by stocks such as lakes or rivers. This management model is inefficient, because it assumes the pre-existence of large volumes of accumulated water. In the past few years that capacity has diminished because riverbeds and lagoons have also done so. Faced with the reality of having less water to pass through channels and also have poor infrastructure, people in the upper basin of the river Lurin looked up: the more quantity of water is in heaven. With this premise, people assumed that the solution was to harvest the rainwater. Planting it. Watering it efficiently.
This process was transformed into a project proposal which the Global Center for Development and Democracy expanded, spreaded out and systematized. The first records can be found in the pre-Hispanic era, where water seeped to make it appear in aquifers using geological faults. Another indication was the use of dams for standing water. The community innovated by introducing water into the hill, from the top. Water is accumulated during the rainy months. Then, when the gate is opened and gravity does its job in a controlled manner, an efficiency of 60% is obtained. If on top of that, subsequently, drip system is used for irrigation, you can get a 95% efficiency in the use of it.
Chronicles written about of the conquest say that there were forests in all the highlands of Peru. Planting water is also planting trees. Afforestation through efficient irrigation has been another innovation present in this solution. Nourish the earth generates perfect water sponges. The model has been implemented in seven districts of the Lurín river, together with a consortium, responsible for replicate it. The first was Tupicocha, followed by the districts of Tuna, Langa, Lahuaitambo and Antioquia, all with high economic benefit.
The profitability of having a second crop has offered unprecedented revenues. Now water lasts all year round. The first phase of the implementation of "sowing, harvesting and water efficiency" was carried out between 2010 and 2014. It consisted of grouping some 20 organizations in production chains. Fruits were focused in the middle basin, and peas, native potatoes and dairy farming in the higher one.
The gastronomic boom in Peru has increased the demand for products produced in the basin. And it has been a challenge to grow with it. Now they are working on the second phase, promoting business organizations and generation of value added that include organic farming. They plan to organize the financing, production and marketing through cooperatives, strengthening themselves as network providers. Relieving the need of water supply, not only benefits farmers.
A high percentage of conflicts in Peru are environmental in origin, so a great deal of the success of the expansion lies in its public policy advocacy, working with regional governments and public-private partnerships.
It´s through water that the high Andean rural poverty is being defeated. Everything lies in the investment of the three capitals that manages the project: natural capital with water, human capital with knowledge and social capital with organization and cooperation.