Water for Families in Peru

In Lima, Peru, the major concern has moved from education to children’s health and the desperate need for water in the mountainous area around Carabayllo, 20 kilometres north of the city centre. On the barren hillsides there, thousands of families are living in makeshift homes. They are people from the interior of Peru escaping terrorism and extreme poverty.

Some of their shacks have no windows, floors or electricity. Others do have electricity but the unstable hillside made the laying of water pipes and mains drainage impossible for all of them. Water has to be brought from tankers in the valley below and carried in plastic containers up precipitous paths. The health hazards can be imagined. For the sake of a sick child we began a project in 2002 which involved one community and required the building of one containment wall, but the neighbouring communities asked to be included.

By 2003 twelve communities, altogether 1,260 families, had begun to build 19 containment walls, some of them 3, 4 and even 5 metres high, at different levels around the mountain. They promised to work together, under their elected leaders, one day a week. We promised to raise the money for the architect’s plans and oversight and the cost of materials, iron bars, sand and cement. The key organisers on the ground were, and still are, Haidee Zauny, who was president of a children’s charity in Carabayllo, and her brother, Juan, who is an architect. Only Juan gets paid for his work. Progress was slow, but by 2005, the 19 massive walls, about a km in length, had been built, then the water pipes were laid and at least 6,000 men, women and children, had clean water and drainage for the first time. The paths, made for the water gave them safer access to their homes and a sense of achievement and solidarity.

More communities are seeking help and in the past 18 months, four of them, about 250 families, have been at work on their containment walls, at a monthly cost to our Charity of $2,500. They are due to have water and drainage by 2008. There are still about 30 more communities, at least another 10,000 people, without clean water. In the last five years we have sent $112.000 to Lima, most of it was raised in Lanzarote. The money needed each year, just to keep the existing work going, is about $32.000. But more communities are knocking at Haidee Zauny’s door. Please help us to increase the funding so that they do not have to be turned away. Become an Associate member or make a donation. Water is a basic necessity and the need is urgent.