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Notes From The Field: Pat on the Road to Pampas >


It is not so easy to get to Pampas. Our group—Norma Rosas from PRISMA, Yolirruth Nunez, social monitoring officer with Oikocredit, and myself—set out from the nearest city, Huancayo. After two hours on a rocky road with hair-pin curves, we arrived at this rural town in a deep valley. It was worth the journey. We spent the day visiting with five PRISMA clients whose businesses ranged from selling potatoes, foods and prepared meals, clothing, and sundries. But agriculture dominates the region, and most clients work at that. And most—even those selling food and clothing—have cows.

We learned this during a village bank meeting held at the PRISMA office when we arrived. From the dozen clients in attendance, almost all of them owned at least one cow. One client owns 11. One key reason: a Peruvian dairy, Leche Gloria, has offered contracts to the clients, ensuring the purchase, and pick-up, of milk and cheese. For most, this is extra income they can earn in addition to their main businesses.

For others, like Julia de la Cruz and her daughter-in-law, Irma Cardenas, raising cows and selling milk and cheese is their business. Both have been PRISMA clients for three years. Julia now owns one cow, but has two calves. She typically sells 10-20 liters of milk each day, depending on production. One liter brings one Peruvian sol, or about 30 cents.

There are currently 1,271 PRISMA clients in the Pampas area, and more than half—the poorest—live in surrounding communities, often bordering on the rainforest. The farthest community is one and one-half hours from the town. Some numbers for context: when PRISMA conducted its PPI survey in Pampas in May 2009, 69.29 percent of its representative clientele was found likely to be below the national poverty line. New clients surveyed were 51.97 percent likely to be below that line. PRISMA is prepared to begin its annual survey within weeks, and this year it plans to track the new clients from 2009 to check their progress.

Pat Kelly is Senior Communications Officer at the Grameen Foundation Social Performance Management Center (SPMC). She is based in Washington, DC.