It’s not every day that a Deputy Mayor accepts an internship. But that’s precisely what happened recently in the high Andean district of Hualgayoc in the Cajamarca region of Peru.
Deputy Mayor Manuel Saavedra Cubas, along with other members of the local government, spent a day working and learning about ways his community preserves, maintains and shares its precious water sources.
In this remote, mountainous area, climate stresses, as well as non-climate factors like the encroachment of industrial large-scale mining, have left residents competing for extremely limited supplies of water—a dynamic that has led to shortages for farming and drinking. And that has created conflict between watershed users.
Lutheran World Relief is seeking to improve water resource management in the region through Adapting Together, a joint project with our local partner, CEDEPAS Norte, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Gold Fields La Cima, S.A. Mining Company.
The Adapting Together partners are promoting community involvement in the management of water resources through methods such as irrigation and water harvesting, which is the collection of runoff for productive purposes. Instead of runoff being left to erode precious topsoil, it is collected and used.
Using the slogan “Seeing is Believing,” Adapting Together held a one-day internship for local officials to see firsthand the impact sustainable water management has on communities in Hualgayoc. Three members of the Hualgayoc district municipal council—including Deputy Mayor Cubas—participated in the internship. They joined representatives from local agencies, leaders from various hamlets and social communicators who run radio news programming, who are able to share their experiences with a wide audience.
Internship participants got the opportunity to learn more about irrigation and harvesting techniques families use to improve their quality of life. These techniques are essential to maintaining an adequate water supply for daily activities, especially during the most critical part of the dry season, when food insecurity and the potential for water conflict are at their highest.
The internship resulted in a renewed vigor and commitment from Deputy Mayor Cubas and other decision-makers to build upon the work of this project to ensure that more families have access to the water they need. And they are committed to action.
“This water harvesting experience is very important,” he says. “In our political campaigns, we have promised to ensure water for our communities … We are here representing the municipality and we commit to implementing this in Hualgayoc.”