Forgot to publish this in March, just published the photostory of Independencia, but I also wrote a feature with pictures about the water situation in Lima and Peru. Hope you find it interesting!
Arriving in Lima, the humid heated city air hit you straight in the face at Jorge Chavez airport, making you realize that you are no longer in a cold country of zero degrees and misty surroundings of Arlanda airport, Stockholm. Even though there are differences, Sweden and Lima share the common threat, a changing climate and what that entail.
Walking the streets of a mega city is so much different from being in small country like Sweden, where there is no mega city as far as the eye can reach. In Lima 8,5 million (figure from 2007) people live their everyday life, the second biggest desert city next to Kairo.
But the thing special about Lima, is the climate. The humid foggy air definitively makes a difference, something you notice, this and the fact that it is not as warm as you first expect. Peru has a variety in its climate, a subtropical climate with microclimates and in the Pacific Ocean a cold stream called the Humbold stream runs from the north to Lima, regulating the otherwise tropical climate.
Due to the melting glaciers of the Andes, Lima faces a future of shortage of water. The water that now run through the river Rimac and are used for both electrical power and of course the water system, face the likelihood of being reduced. A future, not to be looking forward to in a city where people in the periphery not have enough water as it is. Around 14,5% of the people in Lima are, as it is now, not connected to the city water system.
Lima gets it water from the river Rimac, the floods Chillon and Lurin and a number of different lakes, ponds and reservoirs. There is more than one threat besides urbanisation to the water system, among those the mining industries which threatens the function of the normal ecosystem. 60% of the total energy produced in Peru comes from hydropower, according to the Electricity System Nacional (SEIN), who are the ones who also produce the power to the city of Lima. Due to this the government are developing different water projects for trying to cope with the future water shortage problems, a story to be told later.
Water is very important for the functioning of a society. More than one billion people around the world do not have enough water to satisfy their needs. A single incident as the one reported by the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda in the middle of March in Örebro Sweden, where wastewater leaked into the system at the water reservoir Svampen induced a small panic where conspiracy theories like “the municipality is covering up that no one has gotten sick” quickly started and where the press and municipality of Örebro not early enough replied to the concerns of the public. The power of clean water and the lack of it should in this sense not be ignored and may be as big of a risk and threat as nuclear power, presented by Beck in his famous book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity as the result of the modern society.
The 22th second of March 2014 the world is celebrating the annual world water day, an event much important to Lima and to the rest of the world, introduced in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly. The Peruvian Metro newspaper is reporting that as a pre event to the big day, people are welcome to pre-celebrate through bicycling a special route in Lima the 16th of March. And, throughout the water week there are many different events to participate in, a lot of them focusing on families, but also a conference. The week end with Festivaagua, a big music festival of water held in the United Nations park, El Parque Unido Naciones, in the district of San Miguel.
During the week and with the ending on the world water day, much information is given to the public about the topic of water, to educate the citizens in Lima of the important issue of the future. Given the example “Gota a gota el agua se a gota”, Abel Bazan, a resident in Independencia Lima explains that this is a slogan used by the national water company, Sedapal, that controls all the water in Lima, to educate kids in kindergarten to avoid leaving the tap dripping.
All around the year activities and information is given in different ways. Just through looking at all the water reservoirs around Lima, marked with text, you get information of the water and its importance, but also by going to the park El Parque de la Reserva, situated in the central parts, taking a peak at the beautiful water show and visiting the tunnel, El tunel del Rio Hablador, where the whole situation are described on the walls through paintings and real art.
Visiting the Festiagua the mood of a intrigued environmental journalist is on top. The festival is free of charge for everyone and free t-shirts and water bottles are given to the visitors. Throughout the festival an radio reporter for the pan American radio hold competitions and information about water is displayed in the background during the concerts, a smart way of grabbing the attention of the youth, who mostly just want to do mosh pits and bang their heads like the rest of the kids around the world like to do during festivals.
It is a bit of a mystery attending an amazing waterpark with fantastic shows, listening to the music at Festiagua, but also the knowledge that 14,5 per cent of people living in the same city have not got access to clean water as we speak. But on the other hand, the whole desert city of Lima with all its colours and unique climate is one big contrast.
By Katarina Wohlfart