Peru’s glaciers have receded by 20% over the past 30 years

June 21, 2011

The view flying into Cusco.

I recently read a staggering statistic about climate change in Peru that has had a major impact on my time here: Peru’s glaciers have receded by 20% over the past 30 years. This is especially alarming since Peru is home to 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers.  Beyond the numbers, the effects of Climate Change are felt deeply by various indigenous groups in the Andes.  These marginalized communities are rarely considered or included in the discussion regarding combating climate change. The remote indigenous communities often reside hours from basic social services and many of the communities in the Andean highlands rely on subsistence farming, earning less than $1 a day. These resourceful people learned to live in harmony with the land and rely on the glaciers as their primary source of water. While living in isolation for centuries, they revere these glaciers, which they refer to as Apus, spirit of the mountain. Climate change threatens the very survival of these communities and the preservation of their vibrant cultural heritage. In recent years the excessive melting has resulted in failed crops, low crop yield, devastating floods and landslides. This past weekend our team was in the community of Pampacoral where one of our greenhouses is located. Temporary shelters provided by Plan International were peppered around the community and provide shelter after a recent landslide. a small fix to a large.  Thankfully, the central government of Peru is beginning to take climate change seriously.  The local newspaper in Cusco, El Diario del Cusco, reports that a new glacier monitoring station has recently been installed 5,180 meters above sea level in the Quisoqiopina mountain range close to Cusco. This monitoring station will measure the effects of climate change on the remaining glaciers and the data collected will help to evaluate the pace of the glacier melt. Researchers hope to better inform national mitigation and adaptation plans with the data collected. ~tina

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Our mission is to provide and implement sustainable programs and projects in collaboration with the indigenous people of the Sacred Valley of Perú in an effort to improve their lives and reduce poverty in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner. Furthermore, we work to support local NGOs with whom we have shared values using the skills and tools we possess.