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. Resources from the UK and elsewhere are vital for the general running costs of our refuge, for our ongoing activities and for special projects.

El Cono Norte

El Cono Norte (The Northern Cone), sometimes now called Lima Norte, is one of the most important axes for Lima’s growth. This has been developing mainly in the valley of the Rio Chillón and the land between the Chillón and the Rio Rímac, along two principal roads which link the capital, one linking with the north (the Pan-American Highway – North] or Panamericana Norte), and the other with the interior or centre of the country and the Andean sierra region (Avenida Túpac Amaru).

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

NB The following figures relate for the most part to a report from a much earlier period when Project Peru was starting to work. They give a good indication about why we are there, but they are not the current 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 in the Cono Norte reached about 2.7 million, or between a third and a quarter of the official population of Lima and Callao, which itself has been estimated at about 10 million (2017 estimate – 29.2%, or 26% based on 2020 estimates).

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 do 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, and 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 several 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 formed. Disposal through conventional means was difficult.

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 potential 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 has 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.