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Strengthening rural communities in Peru with a WEF Nexus approach
Designing sustainable water management and agriculture systems in San Pedro de Casta to increase the community’s resilience against climate change
How do guinea pigs and the rehabilitation of an ancestral lagoon, among others, contribute to food and water security in the rural community of San Pedro de Casta, Peru? By strengthening technologies and capacities for agricultural production with clean energy - AQUAFONDO shows how this is possible.
AQUAFONDO is a multi-sectoral articulation platform whose objective is to promote the conservation, recovery and sustainable use of water sources for the cities of Lima and Callao. With the support of the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme (NRD) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), an all-embracing Nexus project is being implemented in San Pedro de Casta.
— Adalid Bautista Inhabitant of the rural community San Pedro de Casta
I invested my time, I planted the pastures and now I want to go to INIA (National Institute for Agricultural Innovation) to look for breeding stock. It requires more investment and more time, but we have always done things empirically, now we are doing it technically.
The AQUAFONDO programme aims to adress the several challenges of the region on different levels. Therefore, it builds on these pillars:
- Communal bio-garden: growing vegetables that will be sold to the community at a lower cost
- Technical breeding of guinea pigs: for consumption and external sale
- Installation of a composting plant: use of gardening waste and manure as organic fertiliser
- Use of solar panels for a technified irrigation system and illumination of the guinea pig farm
- Rehabilitation of the Marcahuasi Qocha, an ancestral lagoon in the highlands: for better water management which contributes to a successful cultivation of vegetables
- Women empowerment: ensuring their active participation in the project
San Pedro de Casta is located in the province of Huarchiri, Peru, only 94 km, but still a 3.5 hour drive away from its capital Lima. In the rural community, located more than 3,100 m above sea level, 928 inhabitants are maintaining their tradition in the management and handling of water. A complex hydraulic system, existent since pre-hispanic times, is linking the upper, middle and lower parts of its territory. However, climate change and anthropogenic actions are affecting the community's main ecosystems and livelihoods leading to: Limited water availability, lack of household’s connection to drinking water (only 54 % have access) and sewage system (only 41 % have access), access to electrical energy (17 % of the population lack access), deficits in education: only 77 % of young people (aged 3-24) do not visit any educational institution, poor relations between municipality and citizens, poverty (more than 19 % of the population live in poverty), gender inequality, and overgrazing.
Need for intersectoral solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 33 diverse countries endowed with abundant reserves of water, agriculture, energy and minerals, but regional differences and major challenges – including increasing demands on natural resources, weak governance capacity, significant inequalities, growing urbanisation and climate change – highlight the need for intersectoral solutions. Ensuring the water, energy and food security of 646 million people and reaching the ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals will require balancing competing demands on resources while also protecting vulnerable ecosystems.
The Water-Energy-Food Nexus
Together with national and regional partners, the Nexus Regional Dialogue in the LAC region, co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Ministry for Development and Cooperation (BMZ), promotes the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach in the region to address these interdependencies and ensure the sustainable management of water, energy and food resources.
The WEF Nexus approach focuses on negotiating trade-offs, inspiring compromises and uncovering synergies to ensure water, energy and food security in the long run. It further promotes policy coherence and cooperation between all three sectors at the regional, local and global level. Since 2016, the Nexus Regional Dialogue Programme in Latin America and the Caribbean has been working across the region to institutionalise the Water Energy Food Nexus in public policy and planning in addition to demonstration projects that show the value-added of the WEF Nexus, capacity building activities and the identification of financing opportunities.
THE NEXUS REGIONAL DIALOGUE IN Latin America and the Caribbean
Towards food sovereignty
The technical and constructive component of the AQUAFONDO programme illustrates the Water-Energy-Food Nexus approach: The heart of the project is the biological vegetable garden, having an overall area of 2,000 m2. In greenhouses, herbs are cultivated, while outside, foragers like alfalfa and corn are planted. A committee was installed for the organisation and representation of the community garden. The construction of technical measures like an awning (to guarantee for the optimal amount of sun hours) and an irrigation system (for technified irrigation) support a successful harvest.
Additionally, a centre for technical breeding of guinea pigs was established. With a total area of 100 m2, the shed includes several pens with one male and six female guinea pigs each. Guinea pigs are one of the best sources for animal protein which is essential for the diet of all generations. Therefore, the guinea pig farming contributes to a balanced nutrition of the population in San Pedro de Casta, considering especially that climate change affects their traditional diet. Moreover, the commercialisation of the product can create economic income. The self-sustaining electrical operation of the guinea pig centre is guaranteed by solar panels which have been installed on the roof of the centre. Thanks to the installation of a composting plant, gardening waste and the manure of the guinea pigs can be further used. By that, up to 200 kg/month of humus can be produced. Applied as an organic fertiliser in the biogarden, it strengthens the soil and crops and thus improves the quality of the food.
Located at a distance of 3.5 km from San Pedro de Casta in the mountains, the Marcahuasi Qocha, after its rehabilitation, contributes to a better water management in the village. It can store up to 40,000 m3 of water that can be used during dry periods, benefiting the cultivation of the vegetables in the community garden.
— Adalid Bautista, Inhabitant of the rural community of San Pedro de Casta
“Joy for me is the result of the commercialisation of the guinea pigs. We have always done things empirically, now we are doing it technically. Raising guinea pigs has a double function: you sell and have enough to feed yourself and, at the same time, you have good fertiliser for the plants.”
Sharing knowledge to achieve long-term self-sufficiency
A social and educational project part accompanies the technical component of the programme. Different workshops are held for different target groups, so the whole community benefits from the programme. The workshops are designed to transfer knowledge about:
- Healthy eating and nutrition: introductory workshop and focusing on school nutrition
- Elaboration of a business plan, focusing on sale of vegetables, compost inputs and guinea pigs
- Management of the components bio-garden, composting plant and technified guinea pig farming and creation of management committees
- Leadership for women in the process of strengthening food security with gender equality
Also, hands-on workshops are offered that allow the community of San Pedro de Casta to operate and maintain the technical components of the programme themselves. These include workshops on solar panel operation techniques, Qocha operation and maintenance techniques.
In addition, tools like a manual about nutrition and a recipe book help to integrate the newly acquired knowledge into the community's everyday life.
By conducting the workshops, the following successes were achieved:
of the community of San Pedro de Casta sensitised on food preparation, nutritional counselling and leadership training, 38% of whom were women
of the community of San Pedro de Casta, 78% of whom were women, were sensitised on business plans
7 business plans
elaborated in the areas of fruit growing, textiles, tourism, dairy products, guinea pig breeding, pig breeding and medicinal herbs
sensitised on healthy eating and nutrition as a part of their school education
trained to form the management committee of the project and serve as its entrepreneurial leaders
developed on healthy eating that describes the preparation of 20 nutritious dishes using vegetables grown in the bio-garden as basic inputs
— Walter Medina, Municipal Manager 2019-2022 of the District of San Pedro de Casta
"As a result, people involved in tourism services have improved their quality of care and have achieved economic improvement. Children and mothers' clubs have a much clearer idea about what is nutritious food and consume organic vegetables. Finally, there is also a clear awareness of water planting, the amunas, environmental impacts, and the recovery of the lagoon with local materials".
The Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme
Find more information about the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme and its activities in other regions here.
The Nexus Regional Dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean
Find more information about recent news articles, resources and activities of the Nexus Regional Dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean here.
Developing projects for the recovery of ancestral infrastructures in Peru. Find more information here.
The Nexus Training Material
The WEF Nexus training material shall contribute to an increased application of the WEF Nexus approach in planning, policymaking and implementation. Find more information here.