In an effort to help the indigenous people of the Vicos community in Peru, Cornell University through the department of Anthropology headed by Allan Holmberg, initiated the Cornell Peru Project. The main aim of the initiative was to help the residents in economic development and integration with the rest of the Peru society and the world. The project kick started in 1952 under the leadership of Holmberg. He rented the Vicos Hacienda from a public beneficial society in Northern Andean. With the huge parcel of land, he together with other researchers embarked on an effort to improve the standards of living of the natives in Vicos community.
The research extended to the neighboring regions such as Chimbote, Chinchero, Hualcan Recuayhanca, Lima, Marcara, Viru, Paucatambo, and Pasco. This project later became a landmark through provision of a model through which international development efforts engaged in improving the less developed countries. It is from this project where the developed nations and organizations shifted focus to developing the third world countries in the decade between 1960 and 1970. This paper wills examine the project organization, its status, strengths and weaknesses, and what the project had to undertake to achieve its success.
How the project is organized.
Cornell University runs many other projects outside Peru alongside the Vicos project. The university had similar efforts on research for economic development located in other less developed countries such as Southwest U.S (Navaho), India (Senapur), Canada (Inuit) and Thailand (Bang Chan). The project in Vicos- Peru is therefore part of the bigger picture in which the university attempted to research on economic development means and suggests ways in which the research recommendations can boost such efforts through implementation of the projects. The project organization is such that it receives the overall instructions from the Chair aided by his assistant. Over the fourteen-year lifespan of the Project, Mario Vazquez served as the assistant chair in directing the project. The project had support from an administrator (Enrique Luna) and other seven staff employees. Most of the employees had to be native residents who understand the native language and community culture. Through this structure, the project was able to conduct its functions in Vicos.
How the Vicos Project Is Doing.
Upon renting the Vicos Hacienda in Peru, the Cornell project researchers realized that the Public beneficial society was responsible for leasing the property without any thoughts to empower the natives economically. The large tract of land changed hands in ownership through leasing without any significant help to the natives who were ailing in poverty and landlessness. In addition to this fact, they also discovered that almost 90% of the property remained underutilized. The only people who derived benefit from the land were the patrons and the landowners. The patrons awarded themselves the best pieces of the property and in exchange for cheap labor; they allowed the Vicos natives to cultivate smaller pieces of plots for their subsistence use in their households.
The project organized its plans towards achieving efficient use of the land and ensuring that the native Vicos receive better healthcare and education and that they get to own land and improved economic standards. The project is doing well in improving the education of the natives. Building of schools and the nutrition programs in them helps to keep children at school. The project has also done well in championing for equal distribution and ownership of land among the natives. However, in agricultural production the project seems not to have achieved the full results. The native still have trouble with pests and diseases as well as not being able to embrace fully the modern agricultural technologies.
The Current Situation
As far as the project’s performance is concerned, it has achieved many of its targets. It recommended to the government that it should expropriate the land to the natives. The government responded positively by issuing a decree allowing the natives to now own part of the land. The project also saw to it that the Vicos natives improved in their agricultural production through modern agricultural practices. This improved their potatoes yield by a huge percentage thus earning them a sizeable income. School projects and feeding programs in the school have raised the level of education in the region as well as improvement of the children’s nutritional diet. The native children suffered from malnutrition and starvation due to poverty. Through agricultural participation and industrial training, the natives receive an income, which promotes their economic wellbeing as well as improving their prospects for future earnings
Key success factors and Problems
The key success factors include the use of native employees who serve as assistant directors and other key positions in carrying out the project. The natives understood the language and practices in the region, which enabled the success of the project. Another key success factor is support from the natives. The project employees received support from the residents. This is a success factor considering that the Peace Corps Volunteer efforts faced opposition in the region.
Some of the problems that the project faced include huge gaps between the rich and the poor. This created a divide and unequal distribution of benefits to the Vicos residents. The project had an inclined bias against women in the region. The males benefited more from the projects while women remained illiterate and unable to learn. The poor suffer more and receive less than what the rich receive. Opposition from the natives as well as government interferences also presented a major problem to the success of the project.
Agricultural production of potatoes using modern fertilizers, pesticides, and methods is an example of a project they engaged in. The project was a success for a while but then it became a substantial failure when diseases and pests destroyed the crop. Efforts to stop the diseases and pests did not work. This created a feeling of mistrust in government projects to the residents in the community. As a result, the project failed due to lack of cooperation.
Another project that failed due to unfavorable mountainous climatic conditions was the introduction of cattle rearing in Vicos. The project efforts to raise the standards of health and education were successful. Building of schools and feeding programs contributed to its success. The schools have raised the level of literacy and economic independence among the residents. The project’s target to create democracy and self-governance bore good fruits too. By the end of the program, the natives were running the Hacienda by themselves. In conclusion, it took the project an understanding of the region, the cultural practices, and governance for it to achieve its results. Without such, the project would have faced opposition from the natives. Generally, the project is a success since it has achieved most of its targets and enabled a paradigm shift towards assisting underdeveloped countries.
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