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Yachachiq's Irrigation

Land Use, Peru

Often sustainable development is associated with technological innovation. The changing environment seems to demand new ways to interact with it. But in the search for a future approach, it can also be valuable to direct oneself to the past. In Cusco, Peru there is an interesting cooperation between technical universities, the NGO for alternative land cultivation and the leaders of local rural communities, which are inheritors of the ancient Inca Culture. The object is to combine the communities' longstanding agricultural experience with the present-day academic knowledge.

Alternative water management
So far, more than 40 projects have been developed through this cooperation. One of them is on irrigation. Rural Peru knows many challenges, for example a limited three months of rainfall. This is a quite a restriction if you want to grow crops to feed your family all year round. So, a simple but effective groundwater pump and sprinkler system was designed, made out PVC tubes and needle punctured PET bottles. The dripping through the very small holes result in a soft irrigation, using as little water as needed and retaining groundwater access the whole year.

The ones that pass on knowledge

The development of the actual irrigation system, is only a small part of the solution. The richness of this project lies in understanding the true source of change. Education. Therefore a horizontal teaching program is designed, where knowledge is transfered from peasant to peasant. First of all the leaders of rural communities, the Yachachiq's, are identified. Then they receive training. When the leaders return to their villages they share their knowledge with the neighboring families in their community. 'Yachachiq's' in Quechua language stands for 'the ones that pass on knowledge'. By the reinforcement of their knowledge and their teaching of many others, they are the key figures for success.