Villa El Salvador

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Project Peru has established close contacts over the years in Villa El Salvador (which is located south of Lima) through our purchasing of craft items from women's cooperative groups there, and many of our volunteers have visited their projects.

Villa El Salvador is an area on the southern side of Lima. It began in 1971 as a large land invasion and over time became a large well organised city with its own identity and independent character. In May 1971 7,000 people were relocated to areas in the Tablada de Lurín, an area which was to become Villa El Salvador. A nucleus of community leaders negotiated with the government over the provision of the urgent needs of the community such as a road linking the area with Lima, the building of schools, street lighting and the distribution of drinking water. Over the last 40 years Villa El Salvador has grown in size and number, it now has a population of around 500,000 people, it is made up of 10 zones, stretching out into the desert and down almost to the sea, and Villa El Salvador continues to grow. Community leaders of the new invasions continue to fight for the basic rights of the community including the right to live on the land they have inhabited.


Like any other city Villa El Salvador has both well developed, well maintained areas and newer makeshift areas. The oldest zones with the lowest numbers are now up to 40 years old, and incorporate few of the characteristics you would associate with the typical shanty town. In some parts of Villa El Salvador there are houses with multiple storeys, businesses, paved roads, electricity, running water, and the recent introduction of a grassy avenue leading up to the main market constructed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Villa El Salvador. But further out, the paved roads end and become dirt roads, the houses go from two storeys to unfinished single storeys, to buildings of wood and metal, to straw shacks. Areas with full running water become areas where the water comes through intermittently and then become places where drinking water is brought by truck twice a week. Like any city in any country there are varying degrees of wealth that is usually evident in the condition and situation of the housing.

Many new projects are the direct result of individual initiatives that raise funds locally, as was done with a new medical centre in Villa El Salvador, and projects with children, and crafts projects ;

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A similar experience can be seen in many other parts of greater Lima including the Cono Norte, where the Project Peru refuge is situated.

See also Latin America – Migration to the Cities in our Peru section.