Unesco Green Citizens

Ancestral Technologies and Climate Change

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Project begin: 01/04/2013

Communities living near the Peruvian Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve reconnected with ancestral traditions to solve the problem of water scarcity. By restoring an ancient abandoned hydraulic system, they increased water storage and improved irrigation.

Leading organisation: Instituto de Montaña
The country where the team is based: Peru
Theme: Biodiversity, Hydrology, Local and Indigenous Knowledge
Sub-themes: Access to water, Natural disasters risk reduction, Natural resource management, Participatory science/citizen science, Water education, Water resource management, Water scarcity and quality, Water science
Selection: 2020/2021
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As the temperature rises in high-elevation tropical mountains like the Andes, glaciers are receding and droughts more common, making conditions increasingly difficult.

In April 2013, Instituto de Montaña began working with families of Canchayllo and Miraflores in Peru’s Nor Yauyos Cochas Landscape Reserve (RPNYC) to repair and restore a vast, partially abandoned hydraulic system. Built as far back as 1000 AD, it features a complex of dams and open earth canals that increase soil and ground water storage and improve water supplies to irrigation systems.

Inspired by the past to shape the future

Recognising the potential of this ancestral system to address modern-day water scarcity, local communities joined forces with indigenous experts and a multidisciplinary team of archaeologists, anthropologist and geo-hydrologists. The result? A suite of green-grey hybrid solutions adapted to the daily reality of highland communities.

Since completing the restorations, base flow during the dry season has increased, geologic water storage has restored springs and waterholes, and fire risk has decreased due to higher pasture humidity. Farmers are also improving livestock rotation and reducing grazing pressure to increase productivity. Longer-term benefits like greater resistance to climate extremes are also expected.

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