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Photo-Narratives: Peru

Pozas in Motupe in Lambayeque and in Ocucaje — Ica and Motupe Valleys, Peru (September 2019)

Photographs and Narrative Provided by Carolina Domínguez Guzmán

The Peruvian team looks at pozas and their connections with groundwater ontologies. Pozas are basins, of various depths, that can be found along Peru’s arid pacific coast and capture ‘agua de avenida’ – the seasonal rainwater flowing down from the Andes. Pozas, and the ways different actors relate to them, have fascinated us for a long time.

We first shared that fascination almost a decade ago, at the home of David Bayer. He was an American researcher and activist who lived in the Ica valley. David explained to us how pozas, in this case, the pozas of Ocucaje (see upper picture), were actually recharging the aquifer. In his eyes, this technology was part of a solution for an (agro-export) sector that rapidly depleted the aquifer underneath the Ica valley.

Ten years later, we came across pozas in Motupe, less deep but still serving the agro-export sector; only, this time for smallholders to export mangos. A farmer in Motupe explains: “The agua de avenida has the advantage that the humidity remains for a month, while watering with a well means the land asks for water every eight days, and also has no vitamins that make the trees greener!” (see lower picture) – reasoning that seems wise and proficient due to the lack of water in this region.

We are studying the question of groundwater sustainability through the different irrigation practices that bring this technology into being, forging specific human-water relations and ways of doing agriculture. We look forward to find lessons about how to care for the problem of water scarcity on the arid cost of Peru, and the future of smallholder agriculture.

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