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Last updated at 13:15 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Peru water shortages

Summary

23 March 2009

World Water Day was observed internationally yesterday - not least in Latin America, and especially in Peru where almost 8 million people live without access to running water.

Reporter:
Dan Collyns in Lima

A glass of water

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Scientists predict Peru will be one of the three countries most impacted by climate change. The problems are largely geographic and demographic. Two thirds of the population live in the main cities on the desert coast with a tiny proportion of the nation's rainfall. They rely heavily on the fact that Peru is also home to seventy percent of the world's tropical glaciers.

Peru is also home to the second largest swathe of Amazon rainforest which is under enormous pressure from de-forestation and oil and gas exploration. Scientists say it's crucial to preserve it not only for Peru's water supply but for the global climate system. Researchers say half of Peru's main rivers are polluted, mostly by mining operations in the Andes Mountains. Add to this the ever more frequent El Nino phenomenon which alternately causes drought and flooding.

Peru is already split between the haves and the have nots when it comes to access to water and conflicts are escalating. In Lima many people in poor neighbourhoods pay up to ten times more for water than people living in middle class suburbs.

Dan Collyns, BBC News, Lima

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Vocabulary

impacted
influenced, affected (in a negative way)
demographic
to do with the quantity and characteristics of the people who live in a particular area
rely heavily
depend a lot
glaciers
a glacier is a large mass of constantly accumulating ice, usually found in mountain valleys, which moves slowly
swathe
here, a large area of land
under enormous pressure from
here, suffering from, seriously affected by (in a negative way)
alternately
when two different things happen one after the other in a continuing sequence
split between the haves and the have nots
here, refers to the fact that while some people in Peru have access to water, others don't
conflicts are escalating
people disagree with the current situation and they show it more often and with greater intensity