Developing sustainable urban agriculture can empower communities and promote healthy eating.
In Peru, 70 per cent of electricity travels thousands of miles through high voltage transmission lines and substations to reach Peruvian homes and industries. Red de Energía del Perú (ISA REP), which has built, operated and maintained major transmission networks in 21 Peruvian departments since 2002, is responsible for this journey.
Not only is it tasked with carrying energy along 7,000 miles of power grids, but it is also committed to the communities surrounding the infrastructure. An example of this is the Sustainable Easements strategy under the transmission lines, which provides neighbouring communities with space for growing to engage in urban agriculture activities.
Why deploy this type of strategy under power lines? Given that the power transmission business in Peru faces several risks, including keeping easements free of encroachment, the Sustainable Easements strategy is especially relevant and reflects the company’s effort for shared value.
In turn, engaging communities near the easements in sustainable development projects shores up corporate good standing and generates multiple benefits for the company, including preventing encroachment, waste burning, contamination and crime in the easement strip; promoting the involvement and presence of the communities in the company’s operations; ensuring project sustainability; and strengthening ties of cooperation between the company and the communities.
Huertos en Línea is one of the flagship initiatives of this strategy. Since 2004, it has sought to empower and lift out of poverty those living in the vicinity of high voltage transmission lines in two Peruvian cities, Lima and Trujillo.
To date, 16 orchards have been developed, and these have succeeded in involving both women and senior citizens in productive activities, as in most cases they are the ones who engage in garden cultivation and maintenance.
In addition to providing the necessary gardening tools, the company regularly trains urban farmers in agricultural techniques. It also facilitates the sale of produce harvested at organic fairs held at the company itself or in public spaces.
The numerous benefits of the programme include the recovery of pollution-ridden spaces covering productive green areas that enhance the urban environment. In addition, gardens have become highly effective spaces for community relations and cohesion. Over 42,000 square metres of green and productive areas have been created in urban sites and more than 700 people have benefitted directly, with 69 per cent of beneficiaries being women.
Praderas de Vida, the first medicinal garden in Lima, opened in a non-conventional space of the city in 2019, as part of this same strategy. It seeks to empower women by promoting community entrepreneurship through the production of medicinal plants.
Deploying this effort required close cohesion. Understanding the organisation is a key player in the development and progress of society, going beyond what is compulsory and building a legacy for future generations, was crucial to its success.
The women who took part in this endeavour are also trained in producing medicinal plants, biodegradable soaps, herbal extracts and seedlings. The company’s involvement with local government, development and environmental institutions, and civil society organisations, has also been crucial to the deployment of this initiative.
Through its Sustainable Easements strategy, ISA REP seeks to promote empowerment in the communities where it is present, creating trust and adding value to its stakeholders while joining efforts towards fulfilling the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Interested in learning more about ISA REP? Visit isarep.com.pe.
By Carlos Mario Caro, CEO, ISA REP