Coping with the conditions in the area

The children we help, and their families, come from some of the most unfavourable housing conditions. For Project Peru there is a constant struggle to make do with the resources available. Both for the general running costs of our refuge, for our ongoing activities and for special projects, resources from the UK are vital.

El Cono Norte

El Cono Norte (The Northern Cone) is one of the most important axes for Lima’s growth, which has developed mainly in the valley of the River Chillon and the land between the Chillon and the river Rimac, along two principal roads which link the capital, one linking with the north (the Panamerican Highway North) and the other with the interior or centre of the country, and the Andean Sierra region (Avenue Tupac Amaru).

The Northern Cone consists of the following districts of the Province of Lima: Puente Piedra where Zapallal is situated, and also San Martin de Porres, Comas, Los Olivos, Carabayllo, Independencia, Ancon and Santa Rosa, and one district of the Province of Callao (Ventanilla).

NB The following figures relate for the most part to an earlier period when Project Peru was starting to work. They give a good indication about why we are there, but they are not the most up-to-date figures.

The average density of population in the Northern Cone was 140 inhabitants/hectare, whereas Lima as a whole had an average of 120/hectare.

The 1981 census showed a population of 990,463 inhabitants.

1990 estimates indicated a population of 1,464,600 inhabitants.

1996 estimates were 1,792,340 inhabitants, though the municipalities themselves estimate that actually the population has now reached about 2 million or about a third of the official population of Lima.

This huge increase in population was not only due to rural-urban migration. There are other districts which were already saturated and with no room for expansion such as Lima itself and Callao. Such districts looked at ways of expanding into the Northern Cone, so bringing more serious problems there.

In the Northern Cone:

  • 2 out of every 10 families did not have housing.
  • Indiscriminate and unplanned holding of uncultivated land can increase pressure to occupy agricultural land with serious consequences for the whole population.
  • There was a shortage of water.
  • Only 2 families in 5 had an adequate supply and in many parts this was restricted to 1 or 2 hours per day even in normal times.
  • There is an inadequate urban road network linking the different districts in the Cone; parts of the system even are invaded for housing, many by street vendors.
  • There has been no rationality in the planning of transport routes thus obliging public transport users in the Cone often to make two or more changes, even for some short journeys.
  • There were inadequate Cleansing and Environmental Health Services, and limitations on how municipalities could address that.
  • Critical points existed where heaps of rubbish form. Difficulty of disposal through conventional means.

Additionally and regularly:

  • The cost of living rises.
  • The recommended minimum wage loses its value.
  • Agricultural land being destroyed, even though the Cone had the biggest agricultural area in Lima and could supply food needs in the Cone.
  • Small scale enterprises and traders squeezed out by a market that is basically run by monopolies on behalf of oligarchies.

This generated an increase in unemployment and underemployment, including more and more street traders.

Based on information from alternativa – Centro de Investigacion Social y Educación Popular.

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