In 2018, let's walk for Children in Peru


Peru is one of the Latin American countries that has experienced rapid and high economic growth with a rate of 6% in the last ten years. 74% of GDP comes from mining and hydrocarbons.The poverty rate fell from 45 per cent in 2005 to 19 per cent in 2015, and the extreme poverty rate from 27 per cent to 9 per cent. Despite these encouraging figures, economic disparities between areas continue to widen and rural populations remain on the margins of the country's growth. While Lima, the capital, has experienced significant economic growth for several years, other regions such as the Andes and the Amazon hardly benefit from this development.

Peru has made a lot of progress and invested a lot of money in children's policy since 2013. However, children in the Andean, Amazonian and suburban regions are once again less well off. The quality of school education and respect for children's rights still need to be improved.

In Madre de Dios, Terre des Hommes Suisse supports alternatives to gold mining and works to protect children.
In the region of Madre de Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon, the gold mines, often artisanal and illegal, cause a particularly striking environmental and human disaster: nearly 70,000 hectares of Amazonian forest ransacked, mercury poisoning and deplorable living conditions.

However, more than 50% of the inhabitants of this region are from elsewhere. Most of them come from areas of extreme poverty in the Andes, mainly in Cusco. Attracted by the mirage of gold, they leave the cold, precariousness and lack of prospects, but find themselves in a hostile environment, where the consequences of uncontrolled gold panning have dramatic repercussions on families and children.

In this fragile context, Terre des Hommes Switzerland is developing a solution by supporting the Agrobosque agricultural cooperative. Created in 2013 and located in the region of Inambari in the department of Madre de Dios, this cooperative currently groups 60 families, and relies on local agriculture, including the cultivation of quality cocoa, as a sustainable alternative to mining. This choice also makes it possible to bring a healthier and more diversified diet to its members. Agrobosque also added

a social component to its agricultural activities. It supports communities and local educational institutions on social issues related to children's rights and violence prevention.

60 families and 450 young people and children benefit from the cooperative's actions. Terre des Hommes Switzerland supports Agrobosque and thus acts in favour of children's rights in three ways:
1. Offering an alternative to mining

Agrobosque supports families in the development of agricultural activities, so that they can gradually abandon their mining activity and no longer be tempted by gold mining. The families concentrate their efforts in the cultivation of a native cocoa, specific to the region, very fine and sought after by the greatest chocolate makers. The cocoa tree being a fragile tree and only obtaining its first pods after three years, farmers also cultivate other fruit trees and sometimes exploit fish farming ponds bringing them immediate economic gains. The cooperative's members also benefit from technical agricultural training to obtain better harvests while respecting the environment.

In order for cocoa to reach the international market, the cooperative will need to increase the number of member families and the production area by a further 20. This will require a significant economic investment on the part of the cooperative that Terre des Hommes Switzerland wishes to be able to support and guarantee for the years to come.
2. Improving the agricultural and food practices of families
Agrobosque also helps its members to develop family vegetable gardens with the aim of limiting each household's daily food expenses and guaranteeing children access to a varied and balanced diet.

The cooperative also works with eight primary and secondary schools in the villages in the area. In collaboration with the teachers, the Agrobosque social worker and the students set up school vegetable gardens. The children learn how to grow vegetables from the region and are made aware of the importance of eating healthy.

In parallel, the national Qualiwarma programme is introduced in primary schools. Its goal is to provide a nutrient-rich meal for every child.
3. Protecting children and promoting their rights 

The attraction for gold, which has become increasingly strong in recent years, has created a climate of tension that has significant consequences for children's rights. There are no miners working in gold mines in Peru, but many of them find themselves engaged in various illicit activities, such as trafficking and narcotics*. Young girls are particularly captured in their Andean villages. They are promised a job as waitresses, but once they arrive in the Amazon, they are often exploited for sexual purposes and forced to offer their services to gold panners.

In order to raise awareness among children and parents about the risks faced by the youngest children in the region, Agrobosque works closely with schools to prevent school dropout and identify children who may be victims of forms of violence. Regular follow-up with families is ensured.

Occasionally, festive days are organized in collaboration with students and their teachers, and in the presence of parents, institutions for children and local government, with the aim of promoting the rights of the child.
Visits to the photographic exhibition on the theme "Children's rights in mining areas" will be organized for classes from 1 to 31 October on Quai Wilson.


*These two issues will not be discussed with the pupils during the animations.