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Sr. Regina Toomey and members of ADSOPUR visit a hydroponic vegetable production unit in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima. Photo: ADSOPUR.

In the barrio of San Juan de Lurigancho on the outskirts of the Peruvian capital, Lima, migrants from rural areas of the country live in houses that cling to the steep hillsides, constantly threatened by landslides. The area is densely populated, and people have no access to land on which to cultivate food.

Presentation Sister Regina Toomey has been working in the area for a number of years, supporting a local organisation called ADSOPUR. They tackled the landslide problem first, building concrete retaining walls to stabilise the hillsides and reduce the dangers of landslides during and after heavy rain or at times of earthquakes.

ADSOPUR then introduced the technology of hydroponics, where vegetables can be cultivated without soil in small greenhouses which require little land. A pilot project proved hugely successful, and the project has been expanded to target 1,050 people living in the area. The objective is that people will be able to produce enough vegetables for their own consumption, with the surplus being marketed through a co-operative.

Up to 25 families are supported each year to set up a hydroponic cultivation system for the production of vegetables and fruit. Family members (especially women and children) receive theoretical and practical training in hydroponic cultivation and install a production unit beside their home. Once production reaches a certain level of expertise and quality, the family is assisted in increasing production to generate an income.

It is envisaged that, by 2021, an urban agriculture cooperative of family producers will be created based on environmentally friendly, family-run hydroponic units. This in turn will allow families to re-establish a respectful relationship with their natural environment and integrate cultural practices from their former rural homes into their new lives.

A further ten families annually have had their homes secured from climatic and environmental shocks with reinforced concrete roofs. Over time, families will pay back a high percentage of the materials and labour costs invested in the construction and renovation of their homes. All repayments are reinvested in the project for use with future beneficiaries.