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Focus on Latin America

October 2011

Water for All

PhotoHuachipa water plant in Lima under construction

The project is called simply Agua Para Todos (Water for All) and aims to do exactly that – provide safe and regular water supplies for all of Peru's 28 million people.

The land of the fabled Inca civilization is covered with rainforests, lakes and rivers such as the Amazon and, in theory at least, has abundant supplies of water.

But like other neighboring states such as Bolivia, because of specific local geographical or man-made problems, nearly 20% of Peruvians are still denied this basic necessity. The capital, Lima, for instance is surrounded by a semi-arid belt of land and as the city's population has exploded to around eight million people it has developed into a constant race for the government to provide adequate facilities.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been providing financial and technical assistance for more than 30 years to improve the situation and has continued its help after the government in 2006 accelerated the entire process with its Agua Para Todos program.

In Lima several major Japanese supported projects were launched in recent years. Water towers were constructed in several districts to provide nearly a half million poor people in the north of the city with safe water and a new water plant will allow another 2.4 million people access to safe tap water.

According to city water officials, water supply coverage has increased swiftly in the last few years to more than 95% of the population, but as Jorge Barco, the general manager of the city's public waterworks agency said, "There are still many things to do to achieve 100%."

The northern city of Iquitos is another example of Peru's ‘water anomaly.’

PhotoIn Iquitos waste water is often dumped straight into the Amazon river

It is surrounded by the world's mightiest river, the Amazon, and rain forests, but safe water supplies and hygienic conditions for its nearly half million citizens have been restricted.

The situation is being quickly rectified with coverage improving from around 60% in 2000 towards a current target of 90%.

But there is another problem in Iquitos. Huge amounts of raw sewage are still pumped directly into the Amazon though a recent sewage project launched with JICA's assistance will sharply reduce the flow of untreated waste.

JICA is committed to helping achieve the 2015 U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which, among other things, aims to reduce by half the proportion of people globally who do not enjoy safe water and hygienic conditions. An estimated 900 million people worldwide are in this category, including many in Peru and other Latin American countries, and some 1.8 million children die from water-borne diseases each year

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