Versión en español

Water Lords

Using drone technology, an investigation into the unpunished theft of water and the paradoxes Peru’s
agro-export miracle

May 21, 2018

Between February and April of this year an team traveled on three occasions to the Ica region in southern Peru to investigate the way in which a group of large agro-exporters have turned water from the subsoil into a private asset and are exploiting it to such an extent that the supply for an entire town is at risk. For this series of reports we used a drone, interviewed experts, reviewed National Water Authority documents, and collected testimonies from water supervisors who feel intimidated by companies attempting to hinder their monitoring activities.

Although groundwater is a resource belonging to all Peruvians, the state has given in to its unsustainable extraction in the desert in order to facilitate the so-called agro-export miracle. Between 2008 and 2017 a series of extraordinary rules and special concessions were issued that benefited companies by enabling the formalization of hundreds of wells, infrastructure which the state is now unable to control. Our team was in Villacurí, in the heart of one of the world’s main asparagus-producing regions, whose land, according to ANA forecasts, will be unusable for agriculture after this year.

This investigation is part of the transnational series—the Water Lords—that we are publishing together with our associates Verdad Abierta and Rutas del Conflicto, who have covered the conflict over water in Colombia.