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Story Publication logo November 26, 2019

In Peru: Banking Water for a Drier Future

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Two people walk through a field in Tuco one afternoon in early September. Photo by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
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The last of the glaciers melted in Quispillaccta as political violence spilled from the basin in...

Two lakes built to store water in Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Two lakes built to store water in Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.

In August 2019, Dan Schwartz traveled to Quispillaccta, Peru, to report on how its 13 communities are coping with climate change.

An old sign marking a road into Quispillaccta, Peru. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
An old sign marking a road into Quispillaccta, Peru. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Image courtesy of Tiffiny A. Tung.
Image courtesy of Tiffiny A. Tung.

Quispillaccta is an arid region of the Peruvian highlands and many of its residents are subsistence farmers. But they lost the last of their glaciers in the 1970s.

A view from Tuco, a subcommunity of Quispillaccta, Peru. A great glacier once sat in these mountains. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
A view from Tuco, a subcommunity of Quispillaccta, Peru. A great glacier once sat in these mountains. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Two people walk across a field in Tuco, a sub-community of Quispillaccta, Peru. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Two people walk across a field in Tuco, a sub-community of Quispillaccta, Peru. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Unión Potrero, in Quispillaccta: A land starved of water at times seemed to flow. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Unión Potrero, in Quispillaccta: A land starved of water at times seemed to flow. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
A state reservoir seen below that provides water to the entire basin of Ayacucho. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.<br />
A state reservoir seen below that provides water to the entire basin of Ayacucho. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.

Now Quispillaccta is losing its steady seasonal rains.

To cope, to quench the earth, the community has been building lakes.

Rain drags across a lake built to store water in Tuco, a sub-community of Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Rain drags across a lake built to store water in Tuco, a sub-community of Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Two lakes built to store water in Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
Two lakes built to store water in Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
A lake built on the boundary of Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
A lake built on the boundary of Quispillaccta. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
A lake built in Quispillaccta to store water. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
A lake built in Quispillaccta to store water. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
The first lake built in Quispillaccta, in the 1990s, to store water. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.
The first lake built in Quispillaccta, in the 1990s, to store water. Image by Dan Schwartz. Peru, 2019.

They have built some 60 since the late 1990s and they contribute about a fifth of the volume of the state reservoir used by the entire basin.

Quispillaccta will continue building lakes, banking water for a drier future.

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