Peru is a country rich in resources with good access to basic services such as water, sanitation and maternal health. As the fastest-growing economy in Latin America, it is classified by the World Bank as an ‘upper-middle income’ country. The country is ethnically, culturally and geographically diverse resulting in a strong mix of traditional heritages.
Nearly 90 per cent of adults are considered literate and over 93 per cent of children below 12 are enrolled in primary school. Although social expenditure has been low, welfare initiatives such as cash transfers and child care programmes are beginning to provide assistance to some of Peru’s 29 million inhabitants.
In spite of the country´s strong economic performance and reductions in poverty, inequalities between different groups and different areas have been very difficult to overcome. While 19 per cent of people in towns are poor, this rises to 51 per cent of people living in rural areas. Levels of poverty, infant mortality, maternal mortality and malnourishment among indigenous groups are twice as high as national averages. Of the 3.8 million Peruvians living in extreme poverty, 2.1 million are children.
By spending time with children and their families, Young Lives is trying to uncover the reasons for these inequalities and ask why some children get left behind. Our research priorities are:
Education: Almost all children now go to primary school. Enrolment in secondary school is low compared to primary, but it is growing. However, repetition of grades and temporary drop-out from school are common, leading to a high percentage of children who are older than the norm for the grade they are in. Young Lives wants to find out whether ‘early life’ poverty (from birth) makes a difference to a child’s educational opportunities and ability to learn later on in life.
Nutrition: Children in the poorest areas are 10 to 12 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than the children of the richest 20 per cent of families. Many do not get enough good quality food, cannot get treatment when they are ill, and drop out of school. We want to see how chronic malnutrition impacts on children as they get older.
Well-being among young people: Young people face many challenges in a rapidly changing economy: 50 per cent of young people work and balance this with school. Young Lives wants to know how work (especially hazardous labour) and young people’s self-esteem, diet and risky behaviours (e.g bullying, smoking, alcohol or unprotected sex) and are affecting their outcomes so that better policies based on young people’s experiences can be made.
Like the other Young Lives study countries, we started off working in 20 sentinel sites, but high rates of migration mean we are now carrying out our research in 74 communities across Peru. Together, our study sites cover different geographical regions, levels of development, urban and rural locations and population characteristics. For an explanation about the study design, see this description (Spanish): http://www.ninosdelmilenio.org/que-hacemos/diseno/
Contact the team
To contact the team in Peru, email Virginia Rey Sanchez, Communications Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org)