Cajamarca is a city located in the northern highlands of Peru, in the Andes mountains. While tourism is important to its economy, most families live off mining, agriculture and manufacturing. It’s estimated that the planned mining projects will reduce the poverty rate in the region.
Most recent figures show an increase in poverty to 43%. This increase was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was most prominent in urban areas, where many activities stopped. In contrast, most farming and fishing in rural areas could continue.
Since 2010, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Cajamarca.
According to UNICEF data, 15% of children in Peru are working. This is especially the case in rural areas: younger children start by herding animals and as they get older, the work gets more physically demanding. In some areas, children as young as five must combine domestic chores with work and school.
Working long hours has a negative impact on their ability to attend school and complete homework. As a result, many children drop out of school without completing primary education.
Around 62% of households in the northern region of Peru are living in poverty.
A community-based study found that the main reason households ended up living in poverty in Cajamarca was illness and healthcare expenses. When adults cannot work, then children have to help out to make ends meet.
Children face further challenges: food insecurity and malnutrition are concentrated in Peru’s poorest regions such as Cajamarca where 32% of children below 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.