A state of emergency was recently declared across Cusco in Peru due to the severe torrential rains and flooding. In the last two months, the region has experienced some of the heaviest rainfall in over 15 years. While most international attention focused on the plight of almost 2,000 tourists who had to be rescued from Machu Picchu, the situation is much worse for local people who live in the area. The TV cameras may have gone, but Cusco still faces desperate needs.
The harsh weather conditions have generated landslides and flooding leading to several deaths, as well destruction of homes, animals, belongings, and the loss of crops in rural areas, blocking access roads and destroying bridges. Most houses in Cusco are built of adobe straw bricks and clay so they have not been strong enough to bear the strain and have either been swept away or damaged.
Amhauta, the local organization ChildHope supports in Cusco, has informed us that this situation has been particularly devastating for poverty-stricken inhabitants, particularly the Quechuan communities in the mountains and valleys and those living in the slums of Cusco city, whose already unmet needs have been exacerbated by the disaster. Although government and local relief groups are providing temporary shelter and food to affected families, reconstruction and relief efforts will be slowed down by the rainy season expected for the next months.
This situation has had an impact on many of the children and families ChildHope has been working with in urban Cusco and rural communities of Parcautambo province. Although the full impact of the emergency is yet to be felt, with winter fast approaching and failed harvests driving food prices up, ChildHope's partner Amhauta has spoken to some of the homeless and affected children and families in the slums and rural areas to identify their most pressing needs. Due to these efforts, ChildHope and Amhauta have been able to establish an emergency project in Peru aimed at alleviating the negative effects of the flood on local children and families. Over the next 6 months, this project will set up two temporary shelters that extend support to affected families by providing food, health care, protection services, and education to 30 children and 20 families.