Traditional knowledge improves water management in rural and urban Peru

Year of Publication 2018
Type of Publication Impact Story


Using inexpensive, replicable and ancient technologies to improve water management in the Peruvian highlands, an ESPA project has benefited both rural upstream communities and the downstream capital city, Lima. 

In the Peruvian highlands communities depend on water sources for their livelihoods and cattle, which can lead to overgrazing and jeopardise water flows due to sediment build-up. Downstream, Lima depends on these water sources to provide for its population and agriculture. Historically, data has not been sufficient regarding the environmental management of these highland regions and their role in securing fresh water flows downstream – making it difficult to plan interventions.

This ESPA project found that overgrazing has a significant effect on the variability of river flows, due to sediment build-up.The team investigated and developed low-cost monitoring equipment, and tested and restored an ancient hydrological technique, mamanteo, as an example of an inexpensive way to manage water flows effectively.Using this research as a case study, Lima’s water utility is investing US$23 million in ‘green infrastructure’, with US$1 million allocated for mamanteo restoration.