Alpaca farmers in the Andes fight back
Peru features among the countries with the greatest biodiversity. But it is also the third country most vulnerable to climate change. 


Over the past 35 years 22% of Peru's glaciers has melted away, which represents seven billion m³ of water or the equivalent of the capital Lima's ten-year consumption of drinking water. It is expected that by 2025 glaciers below 5500 m of altitude will have completely disappeared.
The shrinking water supply especially affects the population in the high Andes. Not just their environment but also their health and their living standards are affected. 

With the assistance of the Belgian Development Cooperation Peru's Ministry of the Environment has set up a large-scale programme (PRODERN) to face the consequences of climate change.


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Pichccahuasi (13°18'20.20" S – 74°48'47.06" W) is a village in the Pilpichaca district (Huancavelica department – 250 km south of Lima). The main economic activity at 4500 meter above sea level is alpaca breeding. The alpine meadows and wetlands are normally particularly suitable for this activity, but owing to overgrazing, poor management and a lack of water, in 2012 only one alpaca could be raised per hectare per year. 

Owing to drier grasslands the quality of alpaca wool and meat has dropped, pushing families into poverty.

A new model for managing natural resources

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To help these vulnerable communities, PRODERN applied a participatory approach to addressed land use planning. Inhabitants carefully mapped their environment to determine where the biggest issues were and where development opportunities could be found.

It showed which meadows had dried up and where soil was exhausted. Then, dried-up lagoons were restored and new ones were installed using ancient water management techniques. It helped inhabitants to raise water levels.

In collaboration with the local authorities of Pilpichaca irrigation systems were built to restore destroyed peatland so alpacas can graze there again. All of these measures led to more animals per hectare again, to healthier livestock producing better quality meat and wool and to higher incomes for the farmers.


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In addition, sixteen schools in the district built community greenhouses to grow vegetables. Growing vegetables in open air is impossible at 4000 meter of elevation, while fresh vegetables are important to a balanced diet for children. The greenhouses are also an ideal means to teach environmental issues at school.

Successful pilot project

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The excellent results obtained in Pilpichaca have convinced the regional authorities of Huancavelíca to apply these solutions elsewhere. They are willing to allocate resources to projects that help the population to fight climate change in the Andes and improve their quality of life. 

In 2014 the communal authorities of Pilpichaca invested more than 600,000 sol (160,000 euro) in the construction of greenhouses and barns and the restauration of 86 hectares of grassland for 150 farmer families.
“When the weather is cold we bring the alpacas to the barns, and fewer animals die of the cold wind.” 
Edith Aroni, president of the Pilpichaca community.

At a glance

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Sustainable economic development and strategic management of natural resources - PRODERN

  • Sector : Environment & Climate, Agriculture & Rural development
  • Duration: 2012 - 2019
  • Financing: Belgium & Peru
  • Budget: € 13,064,035
  • Location: Apurímac, Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Junín, Pasco


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