Peaks to the Coast: Building Climate Change Awareness and Resilience in the Ancash and Piura Watersheds of Northern Peru

Copyright Alton Byers
The Peaks to Coast program’s objective was to strengthen the people of Peru‘s ability to respond to climate change. The Mountain Institute worked to develop relationships between scientists, policy makers, and community governments. This program also helped communities adapt to a changing climate, in both up-stream and down-stream regions, by implementing resilience strategies.
Instituto de Montaña (TMI) received $1.2 million dollars to implement this project over three years, beginning in 2009. TMI developed cooperative projects with communities in the upper sections of the two major river basins of northwestern Peru, the Santa and Chira rivers in the Ancash and Piura Regions. As a function of the program, community groups designed conservation plans for grassland and forest restoration. These conserved areas act as buffers to effects of climate change, such as swelling and flooding of the Santa and Chira rivers. In partnership with local municipalities, the project supported the development of climate change adaptation plans. The project also fostered cooperation of highland communities and municipalities with lowland groups that depend on mountain water for their agriculture-dependent economies. Because these economies are heavily dependent on agricultural products, and because the products cannot be grown without reliable access to water, these lowland groups were especially invested in the conservation partnership
In February-March of 2010, the first Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation (V&A) training of was conducted in Peru by USAID, International Resources Group (IRG). V&A is a six-step method designed to encourage stakeholders to identify their vulnerabilities (e.g., water supply) as well as identify adaptive strategies to lessen or eliminate the threats imposed by climate change. TMI staff and NGO/Governmental stakeholders were trained by USAID and IRG in Huaraz in preparation for the community training in Macara, a nearby village. The team then departed for the coastal city of Chimbote and conducted a stakeholder training workshop there on February 19. TMI, IRG, and USAID/Washington representatives debriefed USAID/Peru on February 23. USAID was pleased with the training and called "Peaks to Coast" its flagship project. Geohydrologist Daene McKinney and Alton Byers then completed a 5 day water supply and stressor study from the Cordillera Blanca to major irrigation schemes on the coast, interviewing farmers, government officials, glacial lake control specialists, power plant personnel, and irrigation projects.