Resilience in the rural Andes: Critical dynamics, constraints and emerging opportunities

Resilience in the rural Andes: Critical dynamics, constraints and emerging opportunities

The Andes present an ideal learning space to draw lessons on existing and emerging resilience challenges and opportunities. Andean people and societies have co-evolved with the unique high-mountain contexts in which they live, sometimes in altitudes of more than 3800 m. The high-mountain topography, related altitudinal gradients and geomorphologic heterogeneity create highly diverse microclimatic zones, ecosystems and landscape niches which Andean farmers use in complementary ways to produce crops and raise livestock.

In particular, the Andes are the centre of origin of potatoes and a hotspot of agro-biodiversity where Andean farmers manage and maintain a multitude of potato, maize, root and tuber varieties. Differing strongly in agro-ecological requirements and stress resistance, this diversity of crops allows farmers to distribute efficiently harvest failure risks caused by local weather extremes, pests and diseases. Complex knowledge systems, social coping mechanisms involving complementarity and reciprocity, such as ayni and minka, and highland–lowland interactions further highlight Andean people’s capacity to prepare for and survive perturbations.

 
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