Perú, agribusiness, water and war

Perú wastes water without evening thinking about it. Water is becoming more precious, and as the glaciers in the Andes disappear which channels water to Perú and its cities, Perú will become a desert unfit for habitation for any living organism. 

Inka waterworks at Machu Picchu before the city was built

Perú, land of the Inkas who had a healthy respect for the earth that its people depended on for food, raiment, refreshment, and all else that makes up civilization, including a systematic water irrigation system that also allowed water into the homes–planned long before the actual city of Machu Picchu was built (http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/machu/), is destroying itself, its history, culture, and future by ignoring reality or silencing the few teachers who speak out against global warming and climate change, and vote in the least qualified to sit in judgment in its Congress.

Perú without water

Although about three-fourth of earth is water. It is scientifically  estimated that the volume of freshwater in our rivers, groundwater, snow and ice, is about 2.5%.  The rest being the sea / salt water.

Most of the freshwater are either in the form of ice and permanent snow cover in Antarctic/Arctic regions (about 69%) or is stored underground in the form of deep underground basins/aquifers, soil moisture etc (30%). Total usable freshwater supply to ecosystem and humans from river system, lakes, wetlands, soil moisture and shallow groundwater is less than 1% of all freshwater and only 0.01% of all the water on earth.  That is rapidly disappearing, evaporating, or being polluted by large industrialists, such as the Koch Brothers of Kansas USA and manufacturers in the UK. 

Seventy per cent of the population of Perú live along the coast especially in the area of the capital city of Lima, where less than 2% of the country”s water resources are found–and Lima misuses the most water of any area along the coast line. Lima, Peru”s capital, is a particular worry. It is built on a desert, supports a population of more than eight million, and receives hardly any rainfall.  The city gets most of its water from the Rio Rimac and two other rivers with sources high up in the Andes. The rivers are partly fed by glacial melt, although less than the Rio Santa valley. 

Pollution along the coastline of Lima, Perú

Lima is not the only city wasting water–just the largest city with no soul and no heart and no compassion for other or for this planet. Lima and its sister cities, especially San Miguel, are among the greatest polluters of Peru’s ocean front and of the Pacific Ocean. It regularly wastes water that flows into the cities from the melting ice cap of the Andes Mountains that shelter various poor cities.

Ica Valley, Perú, what the tourists do not see

The Ica Valley is a desert area in the Andes and one of the driest places on earth.  The Ica Valley is well-known for its agricultural products.  The Nazca people of Peru — famous for their huge line drawings on an arid plateau that are fully visible only from the air — set the stage for their demise by disforesting the plain, allowing a huge El Niño-fueled flood to ravage the Ica Valley about AD 500, researchers have found.

“They died out because they destroyed their natural ecosystem,” said archaeologist Alex J. Chepstow-Lusty of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima, coauthor of a paper in the current issue of Latin American Antiquity. “As the population expanded, they put in too many fields and didn’t protect the landscape. The El Niño wiped away society.” (http://www.condition.org/lat9b02.htm)

Ica Valley Oasis Huacachina

The asparagus beds developed in the Ica Valley in the last ten years require constant irrigation, and those who work for the agribusinesses in the valley make sure that the plants are well-tended and supplied with a dwindling abundance of water. The result of this constant irrigation so that Ica Valley agribusiness can grow fatter on UK and European capital is at the expense of the workers as the local water table continues its rapid plummet, an irreversible fall that began in 2002 when extraction overtook replenishment. For example, the UK alone consumes more than 6.5 million kilos of asparagus each year–whereas asparagus barely existed in the UK until the end of the 1990s (95% comes from the Ica Valley and its agribusiness realizes approximately $450 million a year in profits, which it does not share with those who actually produce the asparagus, thus imitating the corruption rampant in the USA as seen in Koch Industries of Kansas). 

Two wells serving up to 18,500 people in the valley have already dried up. It is doubtful that the rate of growth will continue in the Ica Valley, but by 2030 the land itself will be little more than a desert.  Its people will have to cast their eyes elsewhere for new  homes, new jobs, and a new life.

Not only will the workers of the Ica Valley suffer, but traditional small- and medium-scale farmers who have found their water supplies severely diminished will also be out of work and seeking a more hospitable place to live.  As the British paper The Guardian reported, Juan Alvarez’s [a pseudonym] experience is typical. His family has farmed the Ica valley for four generations. He employs 10 people through the year, with up to 40 jobs for workers in peak asparagus season, but he says those livelihoods are under threat. The wells on his farm used to hit water at 55 metres and he could pump 60 litres of water a second from them. Now some have dried out and where there is still water he has to drill down to 108 metres and can extract only 22 litres a second even at that depth.

Farm workers harvesting asparagus in an irrigated field in Peru

Alvarez told researchers: “Agroexporters came with new government policies and tax exemptions. They bought water rights and started buying wells very far away. They have created jobs and that’s important, but the reality is they are depleting the water resources and when the water is gone they will leave. But what future is there for us? We will never leave.” (Read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/15/peru-asparagus-british-wells.)

The study, by the development charity Progressio, has found that industrial production of asparagus in Peru’s Ica Valley is depleting the area’s water resources so fast that smaller farmers and local families are finding wells running dry. Water to the main city in the valley is also under threat, it says. It warns that the export of the luxury vegetable, much of it to British supermarkets, is unsustainable in its current form.

The expansion of the agricultural frontier in the region was made possible thanks to multimillion dollar investments by the World Bank from the late 1990s on. The World Bank reports that 80 countries now have water shortages that threaten health and economies while 40 percent of the world — more than 2 billion people — have no access to clean water or sanitation. In this context, we cannot expect water conflicts to always be amenably resolved. There will be more wars–over and for water–than for any other reason. Since 1995, Ecuador and Perú have been arguing over water (users.ipfw.edu/isiorho/​WaterIssuesNov13.ppt), as has India and Pakistan, Thailand and Cambodia, and so forth, with it even bristling between California and Arizona, Colorado (which has the Colorado River which no longer empties into the ocean but is channeled off / sold off to neighboring states) and its border states. In March 2009, a new water law was passed by the Congress of Perú authorizing the creation of a National Water Authority (ANA) and River Basin Councils (RBC) to implement Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) planning at a national level. The new law establishes a clear mandate for basin-scale water resources planning, integration of sectoral policies, participation of stakeholders, decentralization of management to the river basin level, and recognition of water as a social and economic good (http://iciwarm.org/en/about/prjPeru.cfm).

Population at any major city during market time

According to the World Bank, world-wide demand for water is doubling every 21 years, more in some regions, because of overpopulation and many organizations that claim to be pro-Life, but in reality are spelling the end of human life as natural resources and fresh drinking water disappear, claiming that “God will provide” (citing Philippians 4:19: ο δε θεος μου πληρωσει πασαν χρειαν υμων κατα τον πλουτον αυτου εν δοξη εν χριστω ιησου or Genesis 48:15:   וַיְבָרֶךְ אֶת-יוֹסֵף, וַיֹּאמַר:  הָאֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר הִתְהַלְּכוּ אֲבֹתַי לְפָנָיו,אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק–הָאֱלֹהִים הָרֹעֶה אֹתִי, מֵעוֹדִי עַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה ) and not harm the planet. It is pleasant to think about but not realistic when faced with scientific facts. World population has recently reached six billion and United Nation’s projections indicate nine billion by 2050. What water supplies will be available for this expanding population? (Read: http://ag.arizona.edu/AZWATER/awr/dec99/Feature2.htm)

In just 10 years asparagus cultivation has exploded to cover nearly 100sq km of reclaimed desert. Some of the largest producers have received loans from the World Bank’s commercial investment arm totalling $20m (£12m) or more over that period. The trade has created around 10,000 new jobs in a very poor area, contributing significantly to Peru’s growth, but it has already provoked conflict. When a World Bank executive went to investigate complaints about the water shortages in April he was shot at.

“The water tragedy unfolding in this region of Peru should set alarms bells ringing for government, agribusiness and retailers involved in Ica’s asparagus industry,” said report author Nick Hepworth.

The report accuses supermarkets and investors, including the World Bank, of failing to take proper responsibility for the impact of their decisions on poorer countries’ water resources. “We need action now to ensure water is used sustainably in Ica and beyond,” said Hepworth .

Supermarkets and investors, including the World Bank, refuse to take proper responsibility for the impact of their decisions on poorer countries’ water resources as their sole goal in a heavy bottom line of investment income.

In some places in the Ica Valley, the water table has fallen by eight metres each year, one of the fastest rates of aquifer depletion in the world. The people, cavalierly continue their old ways: wasting water, cooking their food on excessively high flames, and throwing the waste water on land too parched and plasticized to absorb it–so the sun removes the waste and the earth is poorer. (For more on this increasing tragedy, read [in Spanish] http://www.progressio.org.uk/sites/default/files/Gota-a-gota_resumen-ejecutivo.pdf.)

A report by Progressio, the Peruvian Centre for Rural Development (CEPES) and research and advocacy group Water Witness International (for more information in this group, read: http://www.waterwitness.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=17&lang=en; CEPES {the Peruvian Centre for Social Studies} is a Peruvian civil-society organisation which specialises in rural development. See: www.cepes.org.pe for further information), Drop by Drop, shows that the Ica Valley is not just experiencing a lack of water but a lack of responsible water management – from local government that during election years promise transparency but once installed (more often the case reinstalled) into office continue their rule more corrupt than that of ancient Spanish Grandees – through to international investors – which is leaving poor and vulnerable communities at risk in the Ica Valley and beyond. In some areas of Ica water wells are drying up. As the wells dry up the Ica Valley people discover the loss of drinking and irrigation water that throw local livelihood into jeopardy. In some cases, local people are surviving on as little as 10 litres of water per person per day, compared to the 50 litres specified by the World Health Organisation as the minimum needed for basic health maintenance.

Patty Webster (left), founder of Amazon Promise, helps physician assistant Veda Wong Sing (center) and obstetrician and AP Administrator Javier Villanes (back) treat a dehydrated boy in Belén, Loreto Province, Perú.

Dehydration is common, and while the national government in Lima ignores the reality, young and old are actually dying of thirst. Drop by Drop exposes the ineffectiveness and lack of concern by the Perú government, noting that the Peruvian government lacks the political will  to regulate water use in the valley; continuing poorly designed and unenforced water laws have permitted some agribusinesses growing asparagus for overseas markets to gain an unfair advantage in their use of local water resources, at the expense of poorer communities in order for politicians to continue extorting money from agribusiness to stay in power; and allow investors, including the World Bank, to rape the landscape of Perú for the eating pleasure of wealthier nations.

The lead author of the report, Dr Nick Hepworth, Director of Water Witness International, says: “The water tragedy unfolding in this region of Peru provides a compelling case as to why we need a new global water standard as a matter of urgency. The rapid decline of the water table in Ica – almost certainly the fastest rates of aquifer depletion anywhere in the world – should set alarm bells ringing for governments, investors, agribusinesses and retailers involved in Ica’s asparagus industry. But the problem is broader. We need action now to develop a robust market based standard to ensure water is managed and used sustainably in Ica and beyond. Current water management initiatives fall well short, but the model for how private sector standards can drive progress is proven. This is a progressive, replicable solution which can benefit many developing countries.” (http://www.progressio.org.uk/blog/news/global-standard-manage-water-use-poor-countries-urgently-needed)

Alan García Peréz, President of Perú

Lima has no water reserves, and playing politics the president of Perú, Alan Garcia Perez, promises “Agua para todos”: “Water for all”.  His pseudo-optomism has made him temporarily popular, but the population has a rude awakening, as it did in 2004, when Lima ran out of water. Still, in blindness to reality, President Alan Garcia”s government wants to give water connections to nearly a million more people in Lima, but experts say this will increase demand even more. Sedapal”s [Perú’s water utility] former president, Carlos Silvestri: “It will be very little water for all.”  Lima is the only city in South America that has few water reserves, and those reserves will not even last one year.  The increased frequency and intensity of droughts due to El Nino, and Lima”s current reliance on just one

Carlos Silvestri of Sedapal (waterworks) of Perú

60-km (37-mile) tunnel fetching water from the other side of the Andes (which is achieved a monumental cost and expense in personnel and time) spelling doom for the immediate future of Perú and for its millions of people and tourist, not only for the capital city of Lima, but also for the entire nation of Perú: its various provinces, cities, rural areas, and the institutions, hospitals, schools, universities, and businesses that depend upon water to continue their day-to-day activities to sustain the impoverished Peruvian economy and its people who live in a diminished Third World standard where the work days is frequently 12 to 14 hours without respite  (http://www.universalrights.net/news/display.php?id=2191). This factor is ignored by three major powerbrokers in Perú: agribusiness, retailers, and city and provincial governments. Instead of irrigating at night when the sun has set and thus evaporation is slower to occur, agribusiness and city/provincial governments flood parks and boulevards in the heat of the day when evaporation is the most common and rapid.

Main Square (Plaza Mayor) of Chiclayo, Perú

Cities like Chiclayo, in the north, are among the worse offenders and destroyers of the ecosystem and add to global warming by poor construction of sewers, allowing sewer lines to break and flood the streets and then wait unforgivably long period of time before correcting the problems, and using shoddy material because what was ordered has been siphoned off by those who refer to themselves as engineers but in truth are delinquents who steal what is purchased by the governments to resell to pad their own livelihood (this is especially seen in the streets and on the highways where they are laid one year and must be repaired the second because of a poor quality mix of asphalt and other road materials).

Chiclayo outdoor market

The repairs keep workers officially busy, but the workers move in groups with four to seven standing and watching one person work, but this has long been a custom of mortals everywhere, and in Perú actually is required in most classrooms where unqualified teachers assume that “group study” and “group presentations” involve the entire group. Having taught both at the secondary level of colegio and at the university level, I have yet to see an entire group work as a team. Team work is an illusion in Perú as it has always been in the USA–which is why 7000 high school students drop out of school every day of every year (that is 26 per second; see: http://arthuride.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/usa-becoming-more-ignorant-and-hatefilled/).

This doomsday prophecy is more real now that there is glacial melt in the Andes that is eroding faster each year with much of the glacier and gone and bare dried land exposed.  It is estimated that by 2020 or 2030 that a gallon of water will cost more than a gallon of gasoline–another finite natural resource that Perú misuses daily, furthering the erosion of ozone level and polluting the air so that children suffer lung diseases and the lowering of IQ (see: http://arthuride.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/peru-is-destroying-itself-and-its-land/). Not only is there the threat of children being born with lower IQs, but that basic skills associated with education and learning will disappear as Third World nations (such as Perú) destroy their own country in quest of earning USA and UK capital lead to social, health-related and economic problems, particularly for poor communities (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/sep/15/peru-asparagus-british-wells).

In contrast, the Atlantic side of the Andes has 98% of the water and about a quarter of the population, but nations such as Brasil, that are on the Atlantic coastline encourage birth control and family planning. Because of the medieval mentality of the churches (evangelical and Roman Catholic), Perú discourages birth control and family planning, and teachers actually claim that every sperm is sacred and that sex has but one function: the creation of fertilized ova that generate into zygotes, and if the zygotes do not self-abort in the first week can mature into fetus–which still may self-abort, although the Christian religions in Perú lament this natural way of controlling population.

Thomas Malthus wrote that if population was not controlled by human design, it would be controlled by nature: wars, epidemics, floods, and various vices.  He showed proof how the production of food will never keep up with the production of babies. 

Thomas Malthus on the rise of population and the stratification of food.

As an Anglican priest, he urged people to be more conscious of the world and its limited resources and laid the foundation for Al Gore to write his book An Inconvenient Truth where he exposed global warming that the ignorant in the USA Congress deny as do so many other people. The tragedy can be seen: the threat is real. It is now and it is not waiting for politicians nor for anyone else to debate on its reality. The cost will be high, and all scientific journals and all renowned scientists agree that this is the future within a few years (thirty at most).

Increase in human population over the last 200 years.

Today, with 5.5 billion people (and that number growing geometrically) and well-drilling technologies capable of reaching water buried deep in the earth, human populations for the first time are capable of depleting and polluting fresh water supplies on a massive scale. Governments must act now, immediately, to prepare for inevitable increases in population that will further strain their fresh water supplies. Governments especially in Third World nations, such as Perú, need to help create conditions that will encourage the stabilization of population by encouraging and even paying for universal birth control for everyone who will practice family planning and not just breed like animals while there is still time to bring human needs and natural resources into a sustainable balance. If the birth rate continues its spiral out of control, there will be no resources to maintain life by 2070 on this planet. If the number of births per woman averaged around five today, as it did in the early 1960s, world population would be growing today by 160 million people each year. Instead, with fertility averaging 3.4 births per women, the annual population increment is 90 million. This number must be cut back even more severely if the human race is to continue its existence. This is the responsibility of well-read and dedicated educators who must be supported by their academic communities and especially Academic Deans, Directors of Departments, and all subject matter experts.

Alberto Fujimori was president of Perú and in 2010 convicted of human rights abuses.

Alberto Fujimori attempted to stem the escalating rate of population–but in the worse way possible–by forcefully and forcibly sterilizing the poor. Population control should never be mandatory nor government regulated–this should come by educating the people so that they know that with each additional birth there will be less food for those already living, and by 2030 there is a strong possibility that there will be no water in Perú even for drinking.  Estimates by a team of Peruvian and international scientists say that mountain ranges of the Andes that form the eastern border of Peru and Bolivia, which together account for more than 90% of the world”s tropical glaciers, have lost about a third of the surface area of their glaciers between the 1970s and 2006.  With this loss of glacier ice and snow, their is less water that can flow down to the villages below and even less to Lima or other cities that waste its precious blue treasure: clear, drinkable water that is the ultimate source for life and for posterity–not just for prosperity.

Map of Hunger; 5-20% of Perú is has no or limited food.

No family, especially in Perú, should have more than one or at the most two children as the world does not have the resources to sustain and maintain additional people. The world’s resources are finite. They will cease and Perú will become a uninhabitable desert, the few who remain most likely will be in constant battle over water as was the lot of the Bedouins and other tribes who live on the Arabian desert. Only when taps run dry, as happened for a time in 1993 in places as far apart as Des Moines, Iowa (USA), and Sarajevo (Europe), are those who live in the industrialized world reminded how critical access to water is to all aspects of life. In less prosperous countries millions of people, most of them women, need no such reminder. They walk miles each day to find the water they need and carry it home. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity. Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa can be classified as having absolute water scarcity today. By 2025, these countries will be joined by Pakistan, South Africa, and large parts of India and China. This means that they will not have sufficient water resources to maintain their current level of per capita food production from irrigated agriculture—even at high levels of irrigation efficiency—and also to meet reasonable water needs for domestic, industrial, and environmental purposes. What is forgotten is:

  • 1.1 billion people lack access to save drinking water (16th of population) and 2.4 billion lack safe sanitation (40% of pop.)
  • 6000 children die every day from diseases associated with unsafe water and sanitation and hygiene.
  •  More than 2.2 million die each year from disease associated with poor water and sanitation.
  • Women and girls-most affected-lack sanitation facilities. 
  • Unsafe water and sanitation leads to 80% of all the diseases in the developing world. 
  • In developing countries 90% of waste water is discharged without treatment.
  • Over pumping groundwater caused decline of water levels by tens of meters in many regions, forcing people to use low quality water for drinking. 
  • Loss of water through leakage, illegal hook-ups and waste is about 50% of water for drinking and 60% of water for irrigation in developing countries.

(Read: http://www.angelfire.com/bc/nihhrrc/documents/fresh.html.  The author notes that Perú should be without water by 2025.)

Many people argue that governments and/or industries can desalinize water from the oceans. Even if this action was fully possible, which it is not, desalinated water today supplies barely one-thousandth of the fresh water used worldwide, according to calculations by Peter H. Gleick, an expert on water issues with the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California. Between the high capital and energy requirements, desalinated water costs several times more than water supplied by conventional means.

Desalinizing plant cost $2,000 per acre-foot to take salt out of ocean water

Desalination as currently practiced has a further constraint: It is driven almost entirely by the combustion of fossil fuels. These fuels, in extensive but still finite supply, pollute the air and contribute to the risk of global climate change. At present, solar-powered desalination plants–which hold the promise of using renewable energy to take the salt out of seawater–account for only 5,240 cubic meters a day, a negligible proportion of all desalinated water.

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