When one visits the rural communities in Huancavelica, Peru, the first thing that strikes you is the lack of presence of the state and lack of access to basic services such as health or education. Huancavelica is one of the most impoverished regions of Peru with percentages of malnutrition as high as Burundi or Malawi in Africa. At the same time Huancavelica is the most vulnerable region of Peru to climate extremes considering that more than 68% of the population are exposed to multiple climatic threats.

You must be asking yourself how it is possible that despite the significant economic growth that Peru is going through, the overall situation in Huancavelica does not seem to have improved over recent years. The redistribution of wealth continues to be an issue and the improvements are mostly felt in Lima, the capital city. Rural communities are excluded from the benefits that this economic growth should bring to all Peruvians. I am as surprised as Luis Geng (link to Spanish-language web page) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by the fact that although Huancavelica is the most vulnerable region to climate change in Peru, it is also the region ´that receives less budget allocation for adaptation measures´.

It is not easy for the members of rural communities in Peru to make their voice heard among policy and decision makers. This is why CEPES (the Peruvian Centre for Social Studies) – where I work as a Progressio development worker – has an office in Huancavelica where we work directly with the local communities. The projects we are currently working on in the region seek to inform, train and encourage the local population to exercise their rights and to express their views regarding the processes of adaptation to climate change and food security. CEPES works together with local farmers and community members in Huancavelica, to develop projects that strengthen their capacity of adaptation to climatic extremes and improves their food security through the sustainable use and management of the natural resources.

A few weeks ago I facilitated the seminar ‘Climate Change and Food Security’ organised by CEPES in Huancavelica, during which 50 leaders from the local communities of the region, including men and women of all ages, developed specific proposals that candidates in the upcoming regional elections could incorporate into their political agendas.

It was amazing to see how concrete and specific the proposals made by the community members were – and this confirmed my hypothesis that little by little, together with the local engineers and agronomists, they are becoming local experts in improving food security and adaptation to climate change.

In the month of September, these specific proposals will be shared with the candidates at regional forums organised by grassroots organisations and civil society organisations across the country. Progressio and other English NGOs in Peru are giving their local partner organisations financial support, so that they can join forces to make these forums a success.

Cindy Krose is a Progressio development worker in Peru

Photo: Rural people at the seminar on climate change and food security in Huancavelica.

Huancavelica is one of the regions of Peru affected by the asparagus industry's thirst for water - read more in Progressio's report Drop by drop (3.29MB PDF)