In Context: Peru

By Falguni Vyas

May 29, 2012

Population: 29 million

Native greeting: Kaméétsa? (How are you?)

Capital: Lima

Official language: Spanish and Quechua

Local currency: Nuevo Sol

Divided into three distinct regions, (the coast, the mountains and the forest, Peru is South America's third largest country. The mountain region, marked by the massive peaks and steep canyons of the Andes, is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu. The Andes are one of the world's most unstable mountain ranges with frequent earthquakes, landslides and flash floods.

Ancient Peru was home to the Incas, who were conquered by the Spanish in 1533. The Spanish stayed in Peru until 1824, three years after Peruvian independence was declared.

Of the estimated 29 million people living in Peru, about 48% of the population lives under the poverty line. While Peru is becoming a force in the global economy, there are crucial social development issues, like education and healthcare, that have been overlooked. In Peru, like most places, disparities in resource distribution have led to social and economic inequities that favor the wealthy.

Heifer in Peru

Year Heifer started: 1963

Number of Heifer projects: 18

Number of Families Assisted: More
than 40,000

Heifer Interventions: Apiaries; alpacas; llamas; hogs; cattle; rabbits; poultry; fish; sheep and guinea pigs

Technology used: Veterinary supplies; irrigation equipment and organic gardening

Issues addressed: Environment; health services and education access to rural families and income generation

Heifer began activities in Peru in 1963 and continues supporting urban and rural community and small-farmer organizations to improve their quality of life. Peru’s diverse cultural patterns are based on solidarity and reciprocity. Thus, Heifer’s approach to sharing resources becomes a key element to achieve just sustainable development. The program’s strategies include gender equity, recovery of traditional knowledge, agroecology and natural resource management. The Peru program strengthens local capacities, promotes the recovery of medicinal plants and organic gardening.

Heifer Peru works in Piura, Lambayeque, Cerro de Pasco, Lima, Junin, Huancavelica, Cuzco, Apurimac and Puno.