UAE initiative supports 5,000 indigenous people in Peru

Thousands of teachers, students, children and families in the Yarinacocha district of Ucayali are being trained to operate an innovative aquaponics system recently installed there


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 25 Nov 2022, 6:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 25 Nov 2022, 6:39 PM

Beyond2020, a UAE-driven humanitarian initiative, has expanded its global reach with its first deployment in Latin America — impacting the lives of more than 5,000 indigenous people in Peru’s Ucayali.

Peru’s Amazon region has become rapidly deforested due to climate change, industrial extraction of timber, oil development and cattle ranching.

Much of the land has been converted from rainforest to grasslands, and fish catches from the Ucayali River have been depleted, while the number of viable fruit trees dwindles. The region’s young people now often resettle in urban centres in search of better education and employment opportunities.

Through the Beyond2020 initiative, an estimated 2,000 teachers, students, children and families in the Yarinacocha district of Ucayali are being trained to operate an innovative aquaponics system recently installed there, which will significantly improve food security for more than 5,000 indigenous people while preserving the region’s rich biodiversity.


Following in the footsteps of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Founding Father, Beyond2020 – launched by the Zayed Sustainability Prize in partnership with several leading organisations – aims to further his humanitarian legacy by donating sustainable technologies and solutions to vulnerable communities around the world.

Beyond2020 appointed INMED Partnerships for Children, an international non-profit humanitarian development organisation and a 2020 Zayed Sustainability Prize finalist under the food category, to deploy its commercial-scale aquaponics system (Aquaponics Social Enterprise Model) on the campus of Peru’s largest indigenous teacher training institute, the Center of Excellence of the Bilingual Higher Pedagogical Institute of Yarinacocha.

Mohamed Abdulla Ali Khater Alshamsi, UAE Ambassador to Peru, said the Beyond2020 project in Peru offers the indigenous people of Ucayali a sustainable, fully-rounded solution spanning clean energy, food production and water.

“It brings long-term social and economic benefits through a focus on promoting knowledge exchange and training that aims to equip the local community with the skills and know-how needed to further advance their economic development.”

The INMED Aquaponics Center combines fish farming (aquaculture) with vegetable production (hydroponics) in a closed circulation system that grows organic vegetables at a production rate 10 times higher than traditional crop production, while using 90 per cent less water and 75 per cent less energy than conventional, mechanised agriculture. The centre produces food year-round. It is climate resilient and adaptable to any space constraints.

“The deployment notably addresses climate change, not only in terms of the solution itself, but by building community awareness on the power of aquaponics to mitigate its worst effects on indigenous people and beyond,” Alshamsi said.

The harvests will provide food for the local primary school and surrounding community, increasing the nutritional value of school meals and dietary diversity for students. It is the first aquaponics centre in the Peruvian Amazon and the first completely solar-powered facility in the region.

The centre offers technical workshops and training to foster the development of technical skills in local students, teachers-in-training, educators, researchers, and community members. The solution comes as part of a wider effort to support the local indigenous population in remote parts of Ucayali who suffer from high rates of food insecurity caused by human-induced soil erosion and deforestation.

Beyond2020 brings together several leading partners, including Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), Mubadala Petroleum and Masdar.

Mohamed Saif Al Suwaidi, director general, ADFD, noted that through the deployment, the Fund has provided a sustainable, modern solution and tool for indigenous communities in Peru to combat food insecurity.

“While Peru has made great progress in recent years to improve food security throughout the country, those communities in remote areas are the highest at risk to food security and nutrition challenges. The installation of the aquaponics system in Ucayali has been invaluable in supporting the country’s inclusive sustainable development goals, and we look forward to seeing the centre’s impact on the community expand further in the years to come,” Al Suwaidi added.

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