Life in the districts of Quiruvilca, Usquil and Sanagoran, located in the Andean foothills of Peru, can be quite harsh. There are very few jobs available offering a decent income.
So when an initiative is launched that helps improve the economic and financial outlook of some 2,000 residents in the region (many of them women), it gets noticed.
Which is precisely what is happening with a Canada supported project that is aiming to show how alliances between civil sector organizations and private companies are possible, and how such partnerships can maximize the impact of development projects in support of motivated, yet often neglected, populations.
Facilitated by DFATD and implemented by CARE (CARE Canada and CARE Peru) and Minera Barrick Misquichilca, a mining subsidiary of Barrick Gold, the project has changed the lives of a large number of small business owners, looking to acquire new technical capacities, as well as abilities to develop new market and supply chain opportunities.
Concretely, some 1,152 beneficiaries (43 percent are women) received training on improving their technical and management capacities; 971 participants received technical assistance, and some 48 others were chosen to go one step further, and be trained to provide sustainable technical assistance to their communities on a long-term basis once the project is completed.
Roxana Sandoval, aged 22, is most appreciative of her newly acquired skills. She and her family are on their way to becoming financially independent and have taken steps to ensure the growth of their business.
"I've learned how to make better cheese, yogurt and caramel, with our five cows, whereas before we only produced one low-quality product," she said. As a result, she was recently awarded a prize for her milk products at an agricultural fair in her district.
Forging alliances with the private sector in Peru is a relatively new strategy for representatives of the Canadian development assistance program, which are committed to making Canada's priority theme of stimulating sustainable economic growth a success in terms of business growth and increased learning opportunities.
In the case of Barrick, the experience has been positive enough to want to implement similar initiatives in partnership with other NGOs in various regions of Peru. Other companies have taken note with interest of Barrick's initiative.
Since 2011, the Government of Canada has signed four such alliances with Canadian mining companies, leveraging contributions that made possible the launching of projects in four regions of Peru. All of these projects have been implemented by Canadian and Peruvian NGOs, and executed in collaboration with municipal governments and other local associations. Similar alliances are in the works in Colombia and Bolivia.
By having representatives from the private sector, the community, and civil society at the same table, a project of that sort contributes to the establishment of an atmosphere of trust, key to the success of local development projects, and ensures the presence of the most qualified people when decisions are made.
Manuela Hillenbrand and Victor Bazan, community relations managers with Barrick, concur: "The transparency shown by all stakeholders will generate long-term benefits. And it will help ensure that future relationships—a necessity, given the nature of our work in Peru—are based on a better understanding of the needs and interests of all."
This canado-peruvian project in the above-mentioned districts supports two of Canada's development priorities: Increasing food security and stimulating sustainable growth. It is part of efforts to help reach the first and eighth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): eradicate extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1) and global partnership for development (MDG 8).