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From Archaeology to ‘Integrated Rural Development’: The Patacancha Project 1987-1997

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Other farmers along the Urubamba valley were impressed by the success at Cusichaca and in 1987 the Ollantaytambo community in the nearby Patacancha valley approached CT for assistance

Source of the Pumamarca canal in a high altitude stream. Here too there was a desperate scarcity of productive agricultural land, which had meant an exodus of farming families and the stagnation of many communities. The central achievement of the project’s work was the rehabilitation of the 6 km long Pumamarca canal, along with restoration of 160 hectares of agricultural terracing, which were brought back under full cultivation. The valley’s farmers, in a rota system, worked throughout the year under the guidance of a local master-mason, who trained younger foremen and thus equipped them to lead restoration projects in other valleys. Around this centrepiece other components of the overall project catered to the different needs of farmers throughout the valley.

A school teacher in the Patacancha valley on a visit with his class to the nursery for native trees established by CT as part of the local reforestation programme.Environment: For a long time pressure on the land, without adequate management, had meant a vicious circle of damage to the environment. Overworked and often abandoned soils were thin and eroded . Tree and forest cover, nurtured in ancient times, had gone. Project agronomists and field workers ran courses for local farmers in soil conservation and embarked on an extensive reforestation programme with native species of trees. The first of a series of workshops and seminars on environmental issues was held in the regional capital of Cuzco in 1991.

Celebrating the installation of piped drinking water at the head of the Patacancha valleyHealth and Nutrition: Local people were taking water from streams running close to their villages. These were regularly contaminated and infections were commonplace, especially among children, who were also often malnourished since the subsistence diet, largely based on potatoes, was extremely poor.
The project supported low-cost potable water schemes, piping water from springs and high altitude streams, and encouraged the introduction of kitchen gardens to grow vegetable crops not previously cultivated such as cabbage, lettuce, carrots and onions. The gardens, tended by the women, were irrigated by the new piped water systems. Extended family greenhouses were also installed to further improve the range of the diet at high altitude and provide extra opportunities for the marketing of produce.

Thus it was at Patacancha that the pattern of ‘integrated’ projects developed, that would be sustained in other areas. Also a model for the future was that when the project ended in 1997 CT local staff formed their own independent NGO, which was to be funded for further work in the area by a number of international development agencies.