Our Peruvian partner the Centre for Agricultural Development (CEDAP) is helping communities make the most of the little water they haveas glaciers melt due to climate change.
This year, World Water Day's focus was on water quality, but for many communities in Peru the issue is not just about quality it is about water availability.
Melting glaciers in Peru
Many communities living near glaciers in Peru depend on the water that runs off from the glacier for irrigating their crops and pastures to feed their animals.
However, increased temperatures due to climate change means there is little snow left on the mountains, leaving local people at risk of having no water in the future.
CEDAP is helping Andean farmers to overcome this threat and make the most sustainable use of their diminishing water supplies.
Martin’s farm lies in the foothills of the Ritipata mountain range in southern Peru.
In the local Quechua language, Ritipata means ‘covered in snow’. For generations, Martin’s community has relied on the water run off as their primary source of water.
However, with the glaciers receeding, local people are having to take urgent action.
Following training from CEDAP, Martin now uses a sprinkler to irrigate his crops. He designed it himself using a plastic bottle. Using this form of drip irrigation prevents flooding, soil erosion and water wastage.
Martin is now a leader in his community, teaching others how to build terraces and irrigation channels that protect their crops and preserve their water.
Adapting to climate change
Martin’s is just one of the many poor communities in developing countries who are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.
South America contains more than 99% of the world’s tropical glaciers, and Peru is home to 70% of them.
However in the last 30 years, around 22% of the country’s glaciers have disappeared.
Glaciers are important because they store about 75% of the world's freshwater, and play a crucial role in slowly releasing water.
So once the flow from glaciers becomes irregular, so does water availability.
Rising air temperatures are responsible for accelerating the retreat of glaciers and climate models predict that this warming will be most pronounced at high altitudes where most tropical glaciers exist.
The average temperatures in the Andes mountains have already increased by about 1˚C in the last 100 years, contributing to the melting of glaciers.
As the threat builds, the need for projects such as those set up by CEDAP will increase.
How you can help
Make a regular donation Set up a £5 direct debit and help Christian Aid's partners tackle the impact of climate change
Act now Join Christian Aid's campaign for climate justice