Water for Arequipa

Culminating at 7 550 feet (2 335 meters), Arequipa is the 2nd most populated city of Peru with one million inhabitants. Located at the foot of the active volcano Misti (19 110 feet, 5 825 meters), its geological scenery goes with two other volcanos : Chachani and Pichu Pichu.

With a 8,5% growth in 2011, Arequipa region development goes fast.

Tourism is one of the main line of business. Arequipa is the starting point for Colca Canyon trips and has the largest convent of the world (0,7 square miles). Visitors are charmed by the surroundings.

Mining and agriculture are flourishing. Agriculture could developp itself with financial supports from peruvian government.

However a substainable water use remains crucial for the region development.

Peru accounts for about 4% of the world’s annual renewable water resources.Nevertheless, it’s hardly accessible.

In fact, over 98% of its water is available east of the Andes, in the Amazon region whereas most of population and economic activity are located on the west side of the country.

Seeing the region is very arid, Arequipa gets its water from the Andes cordillera snow thawing. It doesn’t prevent from drought.

One part of the population doesn’t have access to running water. They need to refill cans at public taps.

According to the Region President Daniel Ballon, 400 000 people would be concerned by drinkable water access issue.

corn cultivated in Arequipa region

Corn cultivated in Arequipa region (photo by G. Métais)

Some local officials display climate change as the main reason of water lack. National Water Authority Engineers disagree. According to them, local authority should focus on infrastructure investment needs as dam, and inefficacity in existing installation maintenance.

Non-governmental organisations act. “Water for people” established a water-program to help Peru in 3 regions, Arequipa included. They bring closer and advise private and public actors in order to improve sanitary conditions.

They work on substainable water solutions making compatible private (population) and economic (agriculture and mining) uses.

Private actors have initiatives. As an example, Cerro Verde Mining, a Phelps Dodge mining company, is really close to local authority. They have projects in process : 2 new dam constructions.

They will enable population to have a better access to water. Extra irrigation channels will be built for agriculture. Dams will provide electricity to the region (words from wikileaks).

National “Water for all” program of the US Environmental Protection Agency will invest 15 million dollars in 2012 in Arequipa region according to Housing, Construction and Sanitary amenities.

To conclude, Mayor Yamel Romero also suggests to invest in used water treatment new technology.

Only a collective action coming with alternative solutions will resolve water issue.

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