More on Peru

Peru is a South American, Andean nation on the South Pacific Ocean. Classed by the World Bank as an upper middle income country, it is ranked 84 of 188 in the 2015 Human Development Index. 

With a 2014 per capita GNI of US$6,360, Peru is now classified as an upper middle economy; however, income inequality remains high, as reflected by a Gini index rating of 44.7 percent (2013). ,  Moreover, over 7 million people (22.7 percent of the population) live in poverty, and more than a million (4.3 percent) in extreme poverty which is most prevalent in rural communities.  Women make up the majority of the population living in extreme poverty, with as many as 30.4% of women not having access to personal income. Women that do have access to personal income make 30% less per month than their male counterparts, yet dedicate 9 hours more per week to unpaid household work.  Concentrated in districts in Piura, Cajamarca and La Libertad in the north-west, and in Apurímac in the southern central region, extreme poverty affects as many as 25.7 percent - more than three times the national average. 

Despite significant improvement in recent years, chronic malnutrition and anaemia rates remain high among children. Up to  5.2 million Peruvians persist in a state of high or very high vulnerability to food insecurity. ,  Poverty and the issue of food access are linked to topography, climate, and vulnerability to both recurrent natural disasters, international commodity market fluctuations and limited purchasing power.

Peru has a country area of 1,285,220 km2, and a land area of (1,280,000 2). It consists of three principle geographic regions: the Costa (mountainous arid coastline), the Sierra (cold, rugged Andean highlands), and the Selva (rain forests). Due principally to environmental constraints, the country’s agricultural sector occupies a mere 4.6 percent of the land area, and represents only 7.4 percent of GDP.

Driven by rising global commodity prices, industry, at 36.8 percent of GDP, and services, at 55.8 percent (2012), were largely responsible for a prolonged period of growth between 2005 and 2014 when GDP increased at an average annual rate of 6.1 percent. In 2014, the drop in commodity prices (particularly of minerals), coupled with adverse fishing conditions, caused a sharp fall in growth to 2.4 percent, with little improvement in 2015. 

Peru is particularly prone to natural disasters, from occasional devastating earthquakes to recurrent floods and droughts, all of which can have a profound effect on nutrition.

Every three to seven years El Niño warms the Pacific, causing a drop in vital anchovy stocks. Within Peru, El Niño modifies the local climate, triggering torrential rain, increased snow melt, flooding, or droughts. Together, these factors can impact the Peruvian economy by 3 to 5 percent, as was the case in 1982-1983 and 1997-1998. Floods and droughts result in lower food production, higher prices, and a fall in the nutritional status of the poorest people. 

The country is also affected by severe cold waves that may persist for several months. Every year, several hundred people die of respiratory illnesses; tens or hundreds of thousands of livestock die; and many crops are either damaged or lost altogether. 

In the context of these challenges, and in light of the Government’s increased financial capacity in the last decade, WFP Peru provides technical assistance aimed at saving lives and protecting livelihoods of vulnerable people during emergencies, and boosting resilience through disaster preparedness. Under its nutrition remit, WFP helps to reduce hunger by providing assistance to the Government of Peru’s national school feeding programme Qali Warma, and promotes educational initiatives to prevent child chronic malnutrition and anaemia.

Facts about Peru

  • Population of around 30.97 million
  • 22.7 percent live below the poverty line
  • Life expectancy is 74 years

What are the current issues in Peru?

Peru’s population is subject to the combined effects of several problems. At present, these are:

  • Natural disasters

    Peru is highly exposed to disasters ranging from earthquakes, heavy rains, floods, landslides, droughts, frosts and the consequences of climate change. Despite a concerted effort to improve its emergency preparedness capacity, 7.1 million people, or one in five Peruvians, live in a district with high or very high vulnerability to food insecurity in the face of recurrent natural disasters. 

    The recurring phenomena with the strongest impacts on food security are heavy rains and frost, which affect up to 9.3 and 5.3 million people, respectively. These natural disasters are compounded during strong manifestations of El Niño, as the changes in rain patterns intensify floods, landslides and droughts. The 2015-2016 El Niño threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, their homes, schools, livelihoods and livestock. 

  • Chronic child malnutrition and anaemia

    Chronic child malnutrition affects 500,000 children, or over 14 percent of children under the age of five. While this marks a significant improvement (in 2007, 28 percent of under-fives were affected), at local level progress has been uneven: 35 percent of children in the Huancavelica Department are chronically malnourished. More worrisome still is that despite government interventions in the last ten years, the vulnerability across 792 districts is such that 226,000 children remain systematically chronically malnourished. 

    Anaemia affects over 46 percent of children under the age of three. Rates of anaemia had been decreasing over the past decade; but in the last five years the trend has reversed in some areas, affecting families across all income levels.

    Insufficient access to food commodities, poor consumption patterns, inadequate childcare, poor nutrition practices and low educational levels are the main drivers of chronic child malnutrition and anaemia in Peru.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Peru

In recent years, WFP’s support programme to the Government of Peru (GoP) has transitioned from food aid to food assistance. Rather than providing food or Cash-Based Transfers, WFP’s new role involves supporting government institutions by strengthening and developing their capacities in food security in order to improve the management of emergency response, and food and nutrition programmes. In emergency situations, WFP also supports the GoP with projects related to food security, logistics and telecommunications.

  • Emergency preparedness and disaster risk management

Because Peru is affected so often by natural disasters, the Government faces continual challenges concerning adequate preparation and disaster risk management. WFP provides technical, emergency response and recovery assistance. 

To help focus the Government of Peru’s interventions on citizens most in need, WFP maps populations’ vulnerability to food insecurity using its vulnerability analysis and mapping methodology (VAM). This analysis has two purposes: 
•    to help guide emergency preparedness and response in the face of natural disasters; and
•    to identify current gaps in strategies to meet the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge and Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030, and, thus, boost long-term resilience efforts.

In early warning for emergencies, WFP assists the Government of Peru and provides VAM forecasts on disaster scenarios and implications. These aid planning for both response and recovery, and are available in our Peru publications archive.

In conjunction with the United Nations System in Peru, WFP is also assisting the Government in its implementation of Peru’s National Disaster Risk Management Plan. WFP aims to foster greater coordination among government entities at national, regional, district and municipal levels. We also carry out capacity-building projects and activities focused on food security, logistics and emergency telecommunications.

In the event of a major disaster, WFP provides emergency assistance as part of the humanitarian network. As lead agency in the logistics and emergency telecommunications clusters and co-lead of the food security cluster we also help coordinate the international response.

  • Nutrition in schools and communities

WFP recognizes the importance of social protection programmes to end hunger and malnutrition around the world by 2030, in accordance with the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge and Sustainable Development Goal 2. In Peru we respond to poverty-related food insecurity and malnutrition by advising on school feeding, working with GoP and industry on social protection programmes, and by educating children and adults about micronutrient-rich foods and hygiene.

WFP provides technical assistance to Peru’s Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion on the national school feeding programme Qali Warma. Priorities include:
•    enhancing the nutritional value of rations;
•    applying the SABER methodology to strengthen the institutionalization of the programme;
•    analysing the consumption patterns of students; and
•    conducting pilot studies to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables.

WFP also cooperates with the Government to address other causes that impact the food security and nutritional status of vulnerable populations. WFP explores these underlying causes with the Ministry of Health and helps strengthen social protection programmes by recommending the adoption of innovative practices among the food industry, such as fortifying key staples.

To deepen its impact in nutrition policies, WFP also works with regional and local governments on issues of healthy balanced diets, child chronic malnutrition and anaemia. To do so, WFP assists in the formulation of public nutrition initiatives in the province of Sechura and applies the SUN methodology to advocate for public anaemia reduction strategies.

Engaging directly with communities, we also carry out nutritional education initiatives. Working with vulnerable populations, we promote the consumption of affordable, iron-rich foods to combat anaemia, and the importance of clean water and hygiene in preventing illnesses that contribute to child chronic malnutrition.
Links for further information:

•    WFP and social protection for food security and nutrition 
•    Qali Warma – Peru’s school feeding programme (in Spanish)
•    SABER methodology and policy goals for school feeding programmes
•    Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN)

World Food Programme partners in Peru

WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Peru:

•    Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion (MIDIS) 
•    Ministry of Health (MINSA) 
•    Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI) 
•    National Centre for the Estimation, Prevention and Reduction of Disaster Risks (CENEPRED) 
•    National Civil Defence Institute (INDECI) 

Featured Peru publications

  • Peru: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 573 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Peru? Visit the Peru publications archive.