The World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program in partnership with the group of donors in Peru, Grupo Agua, the sector authority and the Radio Broadcaster RPP, are launching the national radio campaign “Culture of Water” to promote the value of water and its rational use among the population across the country. Within the context of the Paris Declaration aimed at promoting donor harmonization, the Grupo Agua is an advisory body to the National Sector Authority, whose objective is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the international cooperation and is comprised of the most important international cooperation agencies working on water and sanitation issues in Peru.
The Public Awareness Campaign has been launched on August 18, through a radio interview to the new Minister for Environmental Issues, Mr. Antonio Brack Egg, and the Water and Sanitation Program on behalf of the Water Group. Minister Brack commented that the "campaign will reach 7 million of Peruvian during 48 weeks. 50% of the national population lives at the coast, and the majority, although living in the desert, do not not know about the original source of the water they are receiving in their households. After Cairo, Lima is the largest city located in a desert, and people ignore this fact. This is why they use and evacuate the water without even treating or recycling it". Therefore, the campaign is seeking to sensitize people about this reality and being co-responsible for preserving the water resources.
As part of the preparatory activities of the campaign, a baseline study has been conducted with financial support of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to identify perceptions, attitudes, and behavior regarding the value and use of the water and sanitation services. Women and men, over 18 years of age, living in Lima and the main cities of Arequipa, Iquitos, and Piura participated in the survey, whose results have been crucial to define core elements and components of the campaign. Findings are interesting but also surprising: Water scarcity is not an issue in people's mind; only 36% considers that Peru could suffer water stress in the future. Inhabitants living in Lima are less conscious of the risks of a water crisis, although living in the middle of a coastal desert.
However water resources are indispensable for people’s life and development, 44 % thinks they pay excessively for the services. Only 28% is willing to pay more for treating waste water before disposing into the ocean or rivers. Findings indicate that people have the knowledge of good practices for saving water and a positive aspect is that 66% considers that they can help fight water pollution. The challenges are now to find the right triggers to motivate people into action. Therefore, the campaign will highlight the individual and collective benefits of saving water, as well as emphasize on the situation of the people, who currently do not have access to these vital services. Additionally, people need to know that service delivery has a cost for covering operation and maintenance issues in order to receive a quality service. As part of the campaign, a media capacity building program has been organized to engage journalists as partners in this initiative.
It is to mention that these efforts are the continuation of a previous communication campaign launched in March 2007 in coordination with the Peruvian Ministry of Housing, Construction and Sanitation embracing a School Contest on Water Myths and Legends, a field visit for journalists to water and sanitation projects financed by the World Bank and WSP, the production of promotional material for the massive campaign, and a celebration event to commemorate World Water Da