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PACC Peru Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Strengthening actions, scaling up responses

This article describes the key findings of PACC PERU,an initiative of the Peruvian Ministry of Environment (MINAM) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Multiple Authors
PACC Peru meeting


Climate change presents major challenges for development. Andean countries such as Peru are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their reliance on tropical glaciers as a source of fresh water for consumption, food production and hydropower generation. The Andes contain almost three quarter of the world’s tropical glaciers. However, due to climate change these glaciers are in rapid retreat; the past 30 years alone has seen their combined surfaces being reduced by more than 20%. The potential depletion and loss of these glaciers poses a threat to Peru’s population, but also to the great biodiversity and the ecosystems of the Andes, the Amazon and coastal areas, which are fed by the seasonal meltwater from these glaciers.

In addition to the accelerated loss of glaciers, the main manifestations of climate change in the country are the occurrence of extreme weather events such as frost, droughts and torrential rains, which have impacted the livelihoods of populations throughout the country. This is particularly true of the high Andean rural populations as their livelihoods are based on activities closely related to the natural resources and dependent on climatic conditions of the mountain ecosystems.

The Program for Adaptation to Climate Change [Programa Adaptación al Cambio Climático en el Perú] (PACC) (February 2009 – March 2017) focused on the Southern Andes of Peru. It aimed to increase the adaptive capacity of rural populations in the high Andean provinces of Cusco and Apurímac. PACC was an initiative between the Ministry of Environment of Peru and the Global Programme Climate Change and Environment (GPCCE) in the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Its key partners at the subnational level were the Regional Governments of Cusco and Apurímac; the universities San Antonio Abad of Cusco and Micaela Bastidas of Abancay, Social Development and Compensation Fund in Peru (FONCODES). PACC has been facilitated by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, the Center for Studies and Prevention of Disasters (PREDES), Libélula and counted with the support of the consortium of Swiss scientific institutions under the lead of the Geographical Institute of the University of Zürich with the participation of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Agroscope, Meteodat and the University of Geneva.

The sections below provide an overview of the key outcomes of PACC Peru. Find the full catalogue of outputs (including publications, technical reports, information briefs, videos)here.

Results of PACC

Public management of adaptation to climate change: Regional and Local Governments of Cusco and Apurímac implement climate change adaptation strategies in an articulated and effective way.

  • Results: strengthened human capacities and management processes; criteria for adaptation to climate change are incorporated into public investment planning; enhanced alignment and communication of regional and local public adaptation action; and the functioning of social monitoring and advocacy mechanisms.

Adaptive responses:High Andean rural populations strengthen adaptive responses and provide useful evidence for public policy.

  • Results: an optimized set of adaptation responses with potential for replication and which capitalize on the findings of the Program and other national experiences; adaptive responses are incorporated into national programs; mechanisms for effective knowledge management on current Andean adaptive methods and technologies developed and implemented; and strong evidence on the cause and effects and cost-benefit ratio of innovative, consolidated adaptive responses generated.

Research and training:Universities conduct research and train professionals in line with regional demands for managing adaptation to climate change.

  • Results: development of concerted Regional Agendas for climate change research; strengthened capacities for climate change research in teachers/researchers in the National Universities of Cusco and Apurimac; normative changes that encourage the use of Canon* resources in research; and training offer at pre and post-grade levels.

Scaling:National Government entities scale adaptive responses through evidence-based public policies and make contributions to the global dialogue.

  • Results: public policies of rural development incorporate evidence-based adaptation to climate change; enhanced potential and opportunity for scaling up rural adaptive responses through existing public mechanisms; strengthened national-regional dialogue mechanisms for climate change management; and the adaptive needs and responses of rural high Andean populations seen in the global dialogue.

*In 1992, the Peruvian government created the “Canon” that allocated 20 per cent of the income tax paid by mining companies or other extractive industries to the territory in which the profits are generated.

10 effective low-cost solutions for adapting to climate change

The Programme identified 10 effective low-cost solutions for adapting to climate change that can be (relatively) easily scaled and replicated (cost indications provided reflect the average of the experience made in the frame of the program):

1. Water Sowing and Harvesting

This is an ancient technology that makes use of natural depressions of the landscape to refill local aquifers. Water sources are increasingly disappearing in the Andes during the dry season, which reduces water availability for agricultural and human consumption. This technique results in water flow reappearing and/or increasing downhill, leading to improved pastures, moderation of the microclimate and conservation of biodiversity and the landscape. Approximate cost: US$ 74 to build an 80 m3 dam.

2. Pasture Rotation and Temporary Closure of Grazing Areas

This is a technique that involves moving cattle from one pasture unit to another according to a set schedule. It solves problems of overgrazing and degradation of vegetation cover, water and wind erosion and loss of biodiversity. It also improves the capacity of rainwater to infiltrate the soil and be stored in the subsoil, improving pastures for the feeding of cattle. Approximate cost:US$ 1’577/ha. (materials: US$ 989; labor: US$ 588).

3. Agroforestry

This is the deliberate association of trees or shrubs in agricultural system, e.g. by means of living fences. In the high Andean areas sudden climatic variations are eroding the soil, decreasing food production and thus food security. Agroforestry helps to protect crop areas from cattle intrusion, strong winds and temperature changes. It also creates new microclimates, improving soil fertility and moisture retention. Approximate cost:US$ 0.36 per seedling.

4. Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are made from animal feces, vegetable remains, food waste, crops or other organic and natural source. In many areas soil fertility has declined due to inadequate crop rotation and fertilizer use, combined with lack of knowledge about new fertilizer techniques with local inputs. Organic fertilizers help to reduce reliance on artificial chemicals and lower production costs. They also increase soil organic matter, fertility and yields. Approximate cost (if bought):From US$ 29 (‘biol’), US$ 33 (compost) to US$ 107 (Andean practices associated with livestock management).

5. Healthy Housing

Thanks to improved house design and location, it is possible to prevent diseases and improve the health of the family, thus increasing the physical and emotional well-being of its inhabitants. The houses in high Andean are regularly built in areas under risky conditions and heavy rain can be the source of collapses and disasters. Traditionally, inhabitants often cook with wood inside, resulting in respiratory and eye problems. Better housing improves the health conditions of families and improves their social relationships. It also encourages work organization and collaboration among community members. Approximate cost (per house): US$1’351 (US$ 393 in labor and US$ 958 in materials).

6. Local Climate Monitoring

This is the reading, recording, compilation and systematic analysis of the values of meteorological variables from a station and provides families and municipalities with climate information for decision making. Approximate cost:US$ 6’690 for a manual weather station (US$ 2’304 in materials, US$ 3’374 in equipment, US$ 951 in labor for installation and US$ 61 per month for 3 readings).

7. Promoting Early Childhood Development

This integrates a set of interventions in education, nutrition and emotional and social stimulation aimed at children from 0 to 5 years. Children in high Andean areas are prone to chronic malnutrition, resulting in delays in psychomotor development, language and social skills. Early childhood interventions help to improve the nutrition of children, which strengthens their immune system, while developing their intelligence and improving school performance. Approximate cost:US$ ‘,794 for setting up an early stimulation center; US$ 767 for breastfeeding promotion; and US$ 13’804 in annual professional counseling per district**.

8. Vegetable Production in Greenhouses

This consists of producing vegetables and fruit in greenhouses covered with plastic or polycarbonate sheets. Andean average elevation hinders vegetable production, leading to a poorly balanced family diet. Vegetable production ensures family food security and improves nutrition and health. It also allows the generation of additional income through the sale of surplus production. Approximate cost:US$ 216 for the installation of an open-air greenhouse; US$ 382 for a greenhouse made of plastic; US$ 620 for a greenhouse made of polycarbonate.

9. Animal Husbandry

This practice promotes family raising of guinea pigs, whose meat is high in protein. This diversifies the family diet and helps to reduce protein deficiency, chronic malnutrition and anemia, which make families more vulnerable to climate change. The sale of surplus production also allows the family to obtain extra income. Approximate cost:US$ 123 for a reproductive unit of one male and ten females.

10. Community Leadership Training Program

The program involved training lead ‘rural promoters’ to enhance technical assistance and social support to families. This helps to improve agricultural practices through the promoters’ proximity to rural families. Approximate cost:US$ 307/month.

**In Peru, the districts is the third-level country subdivision. High Andean rural district populations comprise between 3’000 to 20’000 families.

Contest results: Innovative adaptation practices

A number of rural communities in Peru have faced the pressures of climate change innovatively and successfully. In some cases, they have strengthened their own practices based on traditional knowledge and in other cases integrating new technologies that are based on modern knowledge. In a competition run by PACC, six practices have been selected as being particularly innovation; some of these are shown in the video below. These experiences illustrate the responsiveness, resourcefulness and cooperation of the involved families and organizations.


Outcomes and Impacts

  • RELEVANCE: PACC II contributed to showing the world Peru’s progress in adaptation to climate change, e.g. during the climate conference held in Lima in December 2014 (UNFCCC COP 20) and following the signing of the Paris Agreement a year later. It also strengthened rural development policies by including adaptation to climate change in their implementation, and contributed to the quality of public investment by improving the design of ecosystem services projects.
  • COST-BENEFIT ratio:The public and private institutions involved in PACC II have produced a Net Present Value of US$29.7 million, with an estimated Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 29% over 10 years.
  • REPLICATION: PACC II generated successful and effective models that other countries can use about how to scale up local experiences to the national level. For example, the experience of water sowing and harvesting could be replicated in high mountain communities in other countries.
  • SUSTAINABILITY:regional governments and their partners are expected to continue implementing and reporting on their climate change strategies; Families and local governments are working together to use low-cost adaptive technologies; and local universities are continuing research into the implications of climate change. PACC II also led to the creation of a permanent master’s program in Climate Change and Sustainable Development in a leading university of Cusco.
  • IMPACT: PACC II and its partners organized within Climate Change Council of the Cusco Region (CORREC) and Apurimac Regional Environmental Commission (CAR) have achieved:
    • An Increase of 164% in the number of small producer associations applying new technologies and diversified economic activities.
    • An Increase of 42% in the number of projects related to the recovery of ecosystems.
    • Women implementing the technologies have improved their productive capacities in adaptation.

Remaining Challenges

Despite the successes of PACC, challenges remain. These include – among others:

  • Raising interest in the business sector to invest in local adaptation to climate changethrough private and public-private partnerships.
  • Improving Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) systemsrelated to the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
  • Leveraging international climate fundsfor climate change adaptation in Peru.

Key Resources

The Publications Catalogue (in Spanish) details the many outputs of the PACC Peru programme. Some key resources are provided below.

  • Yachay Ruwanapac. Aprendizajes de la integración del cambio climático en el proyecto Haky Wiñay [Spanish)
  • Lecciones de la Tierra. Una travesía de aprendizaje por comunidades rurales del Perú que se enfrentan con éxito al cambio climático [Spanish]
  • Informes de validación de las prácticas. Resúmenes [Spanish]
  • Yachaykusun: Lessons on climate change from the Andes [Spanish | English]
  • Explorando respuestas adaptativas a la variabilidad y cambio climático con familias y comunidades altoandinas de Cusco y Apurímac [Spanish]

  • Manual técnico N° 1: las qochas rústicas, una alternativa en los Andes para la siembra y cosecha de agua en un contexto de cambio climático [Spanish]
  • Manual técnico N° 2: manejo de pastos naturales altoandinos [Spanish]

  • InfoBrief – Climate Change in the Andes: agreements and disagreements between science and local knowledge [Spanish | English]
  • InfoBrief – Securing water in high Andean watersheds in Southern Peru: an ancient technology for securing water under climate change conditions [Spanish | English]
  • InfoBrief –Enabling conditions for an effective management of climate change adaptation in Peru [Spanish | English]

  • Video – Yachaykusun Andean lessons for Global Climate Governance (Synthesis of interventions from PACC I and II) [Spanish | English | German]
  • Video – Concurso Buenas Prácticas frente al cambio climático en el medio rural. Síntesis de experiencias ganadoras. [Spanish | English]

  • Manual N° 1: Small sprinkler irrigation systems at the family level [Spanish] [video]
  • Manual N° 2: Bio-gardens for the production of vegetables [Spanish] [video]
  • Manual N° 3: Sowing and management of pastures cultivated for rural families [Spanish] [video]
  • Manual N° 4: Guinea pig breeding [Spanish]
  • Manual N° 5: Production and use of organic fertilizers [Spanish] [video]
  • Manual N° 6: Sowing and harvesting of water [Spanish] [video]
  • Related educational radio programs [Spanish]

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