LAMBRAMA, Peru – A simple technical irrigation system that gathers water from “puquios” (mountain springs in Quechua) and allows crops to be watered year-round is lifting a once violence-wracked Peruvian indigenous peasant community out of extreme poverty.
The 27 residents of the hamlet of Lambrama have gone from subsistence farming to growing fruit and vegetables and raising small animals for market in one of Peru’s poorest and most remote areas, its president, Blasco Aguilar, told EFE.
The system has boosted the community’s earnings, expanded its food supply, reduced malnutrition, avoided out-migration to cities and allowed children to devote more time to their schooling.
It also has created jobs for other inhabitants of Acobamba, a mountainous province in the southwestern region of Huancavelica.
“We’re changing our lives just with irrigation,” said Aguilar, whose community was one of the hardest hit by a 1980-2000 civil war pitting government forces against the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas.
The transformation has been possible because local inhabitants now can water their fields year-round and are not dependent on seasonal December-to-March rainfall.
Prior to the installation of the irrigation system, the inhabitants of Lambrama, which is situated 3,000 meters (9,835 feet) above sea level, has limited resources and experiences harsh, rapidly changing weather conditions that range from frosts to intense heat, were reliant on one precarious harvest annually.
The simple system consisting of hoses and a water reservoir was implemented using material donated through a partnership involving Redes, a civil association focused on sustainable development; the Spanish non-governmental organization Ayuda en Accion (Help in Action); and the BBVA Microfinance Foundation.
Nilver Aguilar, a resident of Lambrama, told EFE that the local inhabitants grow more than seven tons of peas every three months and now are looking to sell their excess production in Lima and even outside Peru.
“This community was once abandoned. We didn’t have anything, and now we need markets to ship so many guinea pigs (a traditional food item in the Andes), peas and onions,” he said.