Eighth meeting of rural Andean peoples closes


More than 100 rural leaders, researchers and development partners from Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru met in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile on 12-15 October 2017 to exchange their experiences on the lifestyles of Andean communities, agriculture and water harvesting. The eighth International Meeting of Rural Andean Peoples was organized based on principles of solidarity and reciprocity: participants were hosted in the homes of Lickanantay families, food was provided by various local communities and organizations, and the event venue "Centro de Eventos Coyo Antai" was provided by the Municipality of San Pedro de Atacama. The meeting was opened with an offering to water, a source of life. Waters from the sacred river of the Incas of Cusco, from several rivers in Bolivia and from the river San Pedro and Vilama of San Pedro de Atacama, were brought together to purify the environment and transmit energy to unify Andean peoples.

The focus of the discussion centred on “Sumaq Kawsay”, the lifestyle of rural Andean peoples based on the harmonious coexistence of people, animals, land, water, fire and plants seeking the common good. Participants agreed that Sumaq Kawsay is relevant in the modern context, in which global actions have led to the degradation of ecosystems and the undermining of traditional lifestyles. It was concluded that by exchanging their experiences, the participants could become a reference for the promotion and practice of Sumaq Kawsay.

The second focus of the meeting was on agriculture and water harvesting in the Andes. The ancestral knowledge, practices and technologies of ancient Andean cultures was discussed, along with the effects of climate change, extractive activities and policies regulating access to water in the high Andes.

Some of the main conclusions of the event included:

• Ancestral knowledge, practices and technologies have survived thanks to the resistance of local peoples and are complemented by modern knowledge and technologies, thus assimilating the best of tradition and new knowledge, to affirm and develop well-being in Andean communities;
• Values of reciprocity, solidarity, justice and respect for the individual and mother earth are maintained and practiced by local communities, allowing them to live well;
• The men and women of the Andes maintain rich biodiversity expressed in roots, tubers, fruit trees, grains, animals, etc. However, the indiscriminate use of agrochemicals combined with climate change, which effects the fragile mountain systems where Andean peoples live, is causing the loss of biodiversity and the appearance of unknown diseases in plants, animals and people;
• The over extraction of natural resources leads to the erosion of soils, contaminating aquifers, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and springs, rendering the use of their water unsafe for human consumption;

The event was organized by the Lickanantay People together with Red de Agroindustria Rural del Perú (REDAR Perú) and the Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN), with the support of the Municipality of San Pedro de Atacama and the Andean Network and the sponsorship of PROCASUR, Fundación Oberle Perú, Fundación de Cultura y Turismo de San Pedro de Atacama, the Municipality of San Andrés de Tupicocha and the Municipality of Carhuamayo.

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