Partnering to improve water availability in Peru

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Water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of people, a figure that is projected to increase as a result of climate change. By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages. Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030 requires greater investment in infrastructure, sanitation facilities and hygiene programmes at every level. All ICMM members implement the 10 principles that underpin our Sustainable Development Framework. Principle 6 requires companies to continually improve their environmental performance which includes water management.

When the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially came into force in January 2016, the nations of the world committed to mobilise efforts to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. Business has a significant part to play, alongside governments and civil society, in creating pathways for a greener, safer and sustainable future for us all. Metals and minerals are essential to almost all aspects of everyday life; they enable farming, healthcare, communications, construction, transport and energy and water supply. And they will arguably become more important as they help to deliver the infrastructure required for a low-carbon future. This is one of a series of case studies gathered from our members to highlight how companies are working to enhance their contribution to society and help industry to manage potential adverse impacts their activities may have on the realisation of some of the SDGs.

How Newmont is partnering to improve water availability in Peru

The Water for Cajamarca project, launched by Asociación Los Andes de Cajamarca (ALAC) and its partners, has increased access to water for more than 180,000 people in the city of Cajamarca in northern Peru. ALAC was created in 2004 by Newmont, which operates Peru’s Yanacocha gold mine, to implement community development and infrastructure projects in Cajamarca. Working closely with municipal agencies and the local water utility, the project has improved infrastructure, built local irrigation projects and management capacities, and supported educational activities around hygiene and natural resource management.

Access to safe water is key to human development

Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030. Access to safe water and rational water resource management enables improvements in health, education, agricultural production and livelihoods.

Only 20 percent of Peru’s rural population has access to safely managed potable water. In the city of Cajamarca, a 2011 report by SEDACAJ, the public water utility, noted that water problems were so extreme that in one neighbourhood, the only way to access water in the dry season was by tanker trucks.

Working in partnership

In 2012, ALAC, the Yanacocha Mine, the Municipality of Cajamarca and SEDACAJ signed an agreement to create the Water for Cajamarca project. Each partner has clearly defined roles and responsibilities: the project is funded by Yanacocha; ALAC plays a project coordination and supporting role; the Municipality undertakes a regulatory and administrative role in water supply management; and the SEDACAJ is responsible for managing infrastructure and ensuring customer service.

The project represents an investment of $13 million (USD) by Yanacocha, with the Municipality and SEDACAJ contributing over $400,000 and $270,000 in kind, respectively.

Infrastructure improvements

The project has made major contributions to improving water distribution infrastructure in Cajamarca. Actions include mainline extensions, primary pipeline infrastructure construction and secondary pipeline construction to enable household connections. The project has also constructed an additional reservoir and extended the Milagro water treatment plant.

Improvement of water management

Work also focused on improving the water service management system that covers over 40,000 household connections to improve customer service and reduce water losses through leaks.

Capacity building workshops, training and mentoring activities have included training and internships on monitoring water leakages, automated operating, and control systems and water treatment.

Improvement of hygiene and water resource preservation

In 2014, alongside the Water for Cajamarca project, a pilot project on hygiene and environmental education began. The objective was to improve the community’s understanding and knowledge of water resource use and preservation, and to help ensure the long-term sustainability of the work undertaken to improve the infrastructure.

Aligned with the National Hygiene and Environmental Education Plan, these activities involved schools, neighbourhood groups and local authorities raising awareness in fun and engaging ways. Topics focused on: climate change; the wise use of water; its economic, social and ecological value; treatment processes; user rights and duties; managing water and repairing leaks at home; and waste disposal.

Another way of raising awareness around water through education was via the Reading Promotion programme. This year, ‘water’ and ‘nature’ were central themes selected to guide the stories and legends written by students.

Water for irrigation

Water is also essential for agricultural production. In keeping with its focus on water, ALAC and Yanacocha have also been collaborating with the sub-sector Irrigation Programme of the Ministry of Agriculture. The association has invested in improving six irrigation channels and increasing water storage capacity by building 34 micro-reservoirs. The project has installed technical irrigation equipment covering 120 hectares benefitting 78 families. Training activities have focused on how to operate and maintain the equipment.

Achievements of the Water for Cajamarca project

The Water for Cajamarca project has enabled more than 180,000 people of the city of Cajamarca to have increased hours of water availability at their home. Investment in the construction and expansion of water infrastructure has also created local employment opportunities and generated technology transfer to local contracting companies.

The water loss control and reduction project has succeeded in saving 190,000 cubic metres of water per year, ensuring this project has now become part of the business.

Customer service management in Cajamarca has also improved thanks to the water service management system.

Since the project started, 2,000 students and 60 teachers have learnt about looking after water resources and 23,800 people have access to safe water at home for the first time thanks to 5,402 new household connections. Community awareness of the importance of looking after water resources has also grown and the availability of water for production is enhancing local livelihoods.

Further expansions of the public-private partnership approach

Lessons learned and conclusions that have arisen from the experience of the Water for Cajamarca project show that the public-private partnership approach has been effective. Each of the parties has assumed its roles and responsibilities and the collaborative approach has helped notably in overcoming various social issues that have arisen in the project implementation process.

The project is on-going: work is now beginning on the expansion and improvement of the water treatment plants at El Milagro and Santa Apolonia.

ICMM members supporting the SDGs