Many Latin-American capitals, like Bogota and Quito, have a strong water dependency on the good conditions of the natural ecosystems located in the Andean region. These ecosystems are considered as important hydrological regulators of good quality and quantity of water for the growing population living in this region. The case of Lima, is not the exception.
Lima (Peru), is well known, as the second capital of the world located in a dessert, just after The Cairo. A city with more than 9 million people, relies their water supply on three important rivers Rimac, Chillon and Lurin. The rivers spring from snow and rivers in the high peaks of the Andes and flow into the Pacific Ocean. Since the Pre Inca cultures, these three rivers provided clean and fresh water for food production. However, nowadays these water supplies are in increasing danger due to the development of new urban areas downstream and other traditional practices located in the upper areas of the catchment -overgrazing, reforestation with not native species, deforestation, draining wetlands, among others- are continuously degrading natural ecosystems and affecting the production of important hydrological ecosystem services like water availability, water regulation and sediments control.
AQUAFONDO, known as The Water Fund for Lima and born in 2010 as part of a world initiative of The Nature Conservancy, is currently working on the restoration, conservation and protection of these natural ecosystem in order to improve these water value services for the current and future citizens of Lima. One of AQUAFONDO´s most successful project was the restoration of one pre-inca infiltration channel, locally known as mamanteo located in a rural community in the upper basin of the Chillon River (3900 m.a.s.s). We are currently, through a local partner CONDESAN (Consortium for the Development of the Andean Eco Region) monitoring the efficiency of this infrastructure at a local level and also measuring the potential benefits for Lima. Details on this projectare available here.
As we can see there is still a disconnection but at the same time dependency between urbanised downstream and rural community upstream areas to restore hydrological service for different actors along the basin. An Integrated Water Management approach has been helping me to propose and set up scenarios to gather and connect urbanised downstream developments and rural upstream developing communities to restore together the hydrological services for the entire Lima’s population.