Purdue and Peruvian universities will research solutions for communities and eco-systems facing devastating environmental degradation.
Purdue’s partnership with Peruvian universities will build infrastructure on the ground allowing for research on the environmental challenges faced by the Junin and Arequipa regions. The biggest institutional partnership to date is the Arequipa Nexus Institute, founded in 2018 in collaboration with Universidad Nacional de San Agustín (UNSA). The institute for food, water, energy and environment, creates an interdisciplinary space for researchers and partners to work with local communities and eco-systems. Thus it will cultivate the “development of adaptive, profitable, and sustainable food-energy-water systems in the Arequipa region of Peru,” states a press release from the American university.
Arequipa faces extreme water scarcity. Farmers in the region compete for water usage as they move irrigation systems into lowland desert areas. “You’re disrupting the entire fabric of a region in terms of how they have been doing agriculture for millennia,” says Tim Filley, co-director of the Nexus Institute.
In July, the American university also announced a strategic partnership with Peru’s Universidad Nacional del Centro del Peru (UNCP) in Junin. The strategic alliance will provide exchange programs for faculty and students, as well as technical and professional development.
The Junin region produces some of Peru’s most valuable crops: corn, quinoa, tropical fruits, coffee and cacao. Yet its population suffers from underfunded and abandoned systems for public health and management. The partnership between universities will “help preserve this fragile ecosystem, and will develop new technologies that assist the local communities with adoption of state-of-the-art practices,” says Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for Purdue’s Discovery Park.
These projects are funded by Peru’s mining canon: the tax resources with are transferred to the regions where the mining extraction takes place. More than 100 faculty members from the universities will be involved in various aspects of these research projects that include topics such as “food security and safety, water and air quality, energy efficiency, soil health and productivity, social conflict identification and resolution models, and wholistic watershed management.”
Cover photo: Purdue/Tim Filley