Quechua sisters build sacred reservoirs in the Andes
Asociación Bartolomé Aripalla (Perú)
“The return to our roots is the rebirth of our identity and the recovery of the grandeur that has always existed in our communities.”
Magdalena Machaca Mendieta,
 Co-Founder and Executive Director

As climate change shrinks Andean glaciers and brings water shortages, two Quechua sisters are building traditional sacred reservoirs to harvest rain. About 40 years ago, the snow that once covered the Andes mountains near the Peruvian city of Ayacucho started to disappear. Water became scarce for more than 200,000 people in the south-central region, most of them from the Quechua indigenous community. Looking to their past, agronomist engineer and Andean agriculture and biodiversity expert Magdalena Machaca Mendieta and her sister found a solution. They built lagoons high in the mountains to harvest and “cultivate” rainwater, the same way their ancestors did. Their organisation Asociación Bartolomé Aripaylla uses traditional knowledge to help indigenous communities improve their economic activities. The organisation also passes on knowledge for the next generation, with training for Quechua youth to become cultural mediators, active in recreation of community practices and defenders of their rights and territories. They have also been sharing this experience with other countries such as Costa Rica within the framework of South-South Cooperation, and with Bolivia in the implementation of innovative practices for the biocultural protection of water sources and seed diversity. Asociación Bartolomé Aripaylla centres processes of Andean cultural affirmation and reestablishment of Vivir Bonito/Vida Primorosa (an alternative model to development) in communities that have historically been relegated to neglect and cultural contempt.