Peru: Rebuilding communities through volunteerism

Sebastian holds the property title that will allow him to receive a state subsidy to rebuild his house in Santa Barbara, Peru.
Sebastian holds the property title that will allow him to receive a state subsidy to rebuild his house in Santa Barbara, Peru. Photo: UNDP in Peru

Sebastiàn Escajadillo Saire, a resident of Santa Barbara’s village south of Lima, Peru, lost everything when his house was destroyed by a magnitude 8 earthquake in 2007, which left tens of thousands homeless across the region.

In October 2011, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, the French Embassy in Peru and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), joined forces to further strengthen the ongoing recovery efforts by bringing in a team of UN volunteers to help formalize housing deeds, and enroll civil participation in rebuilding infrastructure.

Highlights

  • More than 500 people were killed and over 90.000 houses destroyed in the 2007 earthquake in Peru.
  • The 150,000 EUR project helped train the population in construction and masonry through volunteerism, reinforcing social cohesion.
  • 101 property titles were granted to homeowners in Santa Barbara, further to community workshops on legal aspects of registration for title deeds.

A national team of experts from UNV trained Santa Barbara's residents in construction and masonry technics, and led community workshops on legal issues regarding property ownership and the registration process for title deeds.

"The first thing we noticed was that the population didn´t trust us because of many unfruitful interventions by other actors in the area. During the project, they became more confident about us and their own abilities,” says Omar Vilca Antezana, an engineer by profession and a national UNV specialist.

"It has changed the mentality of our people and you can sense their enthusiasm as they continue to attend the workshops the project offers," says Delia Solorzano Carrión, mayor of the municipality of San Luis, Cañete. She adds that the workshops helped reaffirm a sense of ownership and boost self-esteem.

“Now we feel like the owners of our land, and will be able to build a house with dignity,” says Saire, holding the property title that will allow him to receive a state subsidy to rebuild his house.

The project also raised awareness in the community about the importance of active participation in the reconstruction activities. Local volunteers were carefully selected from nearby areas and trained to teach the population, giving the project a unique sense of sustainability and planting the seed of volunteerism in the village. Villagers helped each other build bathrooms for the houses that did not have them, in addition to rebuilding the playground and the nursery.

“I think there will be more cleanliness, order and more importantly we’ll prevent diseases“, says Rosa Angelica, a local resident.