Although buoyant economic growth in Peru has generated positive macro-economic figures, this evolution has largely bypassed the remote communities in the Andes, where poverty pockets are widely present. The Jequetepeque river basin is a prominent example. While the nearby mines generate more than a quarter of Peru’s gross domestic product, upland farmers struggle with severe erosion, degradation of both soils and vegetation, and loss of land to mining concessions. Erosion also affects the downstream Gallito Ciego reservoir and others, which are essential for irrigation of large-scale coastal agricultural systems and urban water supply. The farmers are under severe pressure to implement land conservation practices, not only to improve their own livelihoods but also to safeguard ecosystem services for downstream users. The tropical Andes are also an important test-bed for payment for ecosystem services. Jequetepeque is one of 4 cases included in the Incubator of Projects for Hydrological Ecosystem Services’ Compensation, promoted by the Environment Ministry, with support from the Swiss Development Cooperation.
Technologies for environmental observation and modelling are advancing quickly. Integrating such real-time observation and simulation in a web environment is sometimes referred to as a virtual observatory. Many prototypes are currently implemented worldwide. This project explores whether such technology can be useful in a poverty allevation context. Such settings are typically faced with issues of large predictive uncertainties, limited resources, limited local scientific capacity. Therefore, we try to develop prototypes that allow us to work in a bottom-up, interdisciplinary approach.