When the crops in her rural highlands community in southern Peru were covered with a thick layer of ice one night, Felícitas Quispe, 43, organised her neighbours to make an effort to keep people from starving to death.
For ages, rural women in the Peruvian highlands have been selecting and storing seeds, ensuring their preservation. But the authorities have failed to tap into this storehouse of knowledge and experience, despite the contributions it could make to the design of effective policies for adaptation to climate change, which poses a growing threat to the women’s livelihoods.
This year’s unusually rainy season in Peru is having a negative effect on the wellbeing and health of women in rural areas who are forced, for example, to spend three times as much time walking to collect firewood and water. But the authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the problems they face.
"This year the freeze killed my crops, our small livestock died, and now I can't even sleep because I'm worried sick thinking about how to put food on my family's table, since I'm a widow," said Rosaura Huatay, an indigenous farmer in Peru's northern Andes highlands.