Pallaqueras’ assistance platform provides humanitarian aid to women miners in Peru

19 October 2020

In Peru, artisanal gold women miners that dedicate themselves to the search of tiny traces of gold waste in hillsides are referred to as Pallaqueras. Since the start of the pandemic, many of them have been severely affected by the health and economic crisis. In response to this emergency, Solidaridad and Red Social joined to create an initiative to alleviate their food security crisis and the need of orientation in the middle of COVID-19. Today, over 400 Pallaqueras have received humanitarian aid from people around the world and the civil society.

Almost USD 10,000 has been distributed among 378 peruvian pallaqueras

“Pallaqueo” is the only source of income for many women miners. In 2017, it was estimated that nearly 75% of them got earnings below the minimum wage established in Peru, from which near a half were in extreme poverty. This means a limited income to purchase a food kit for a month. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified their vulnerability, since artisanal and small scale mining was classified as a “non-essential” activity. 

According to the research undertaken by the Instituto de Redes de Desarrollo Social (Red Social) in June 2020, 75% of these women miners have little information about symptoms, protocols, potential situations in which the virus spread, and 78% have not received any government aid. 

Over 50% lack health insurance, and  live in remote areas with no access to health services, and frequently isolated by hard climate conditions. In addition, many are exposed to various occupational hazards, such as respiratory diseases or chronic conditions, which make them even more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Representatives of the local mining cooperatives accepted the donations on behalf of Pallaqueras, and then each Pallaquera signed and showed their ID when they received it

To tackle this situation, Solidaridad and Red Social joined to develop an initiative to alleviate COVID-19 effects: the Pallaqueras’ assistance platform. This platform has three stages: 

  • Fundraising and distribution of food supplies to families, especially to children, for as long as the sanitary emergency lasts.

  • A remote capacity building program to adjust their work practices, daily social activities and family routines to the COVID-19 scenario.

  • Setting a call center that provides timely information on how to prevent and handle COVID-19 infection.

Thanks to donations from people and the civil society, the first stage is about to be completed. Over USD 11,000 (S/ 40.000 ) were raised and are currently being distributed among 560 Pallaqueras, located in Arequipa, Puno and Ayacucho.

The second stage of the initiative is expected to start in late October. The objective is to train  Pallaqueras to build organizational and communication skills in order to positively impact their mining associations, families and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve their working conditions. Red Social is already interviewing leaders of women mining associations to kick off the programme as soon as possible.

This article is a follow up to an earlier piece on this campaign.

If you’re part of the civil society and wish to help Pallaqueras you can DONATE HERE

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