South America is a hub of cultures, where people from indigenous, European and African backgrounds have come together and created an inebriating mix of traditions, captivating rhythms and tasteful food.
Politics, Economics & Development
This is a time of significant change and economic growth across South America, often driven by passionate and charismatic – if controversial – political leaders. Volunteers travelling to this region will certainly notice promising signs of economic and social progress and a general optimism, especially among younger generations. While things are changing, countries in South America are still a mix of wealth and poverty and unfortunately the gap between rich and poor in South America is one of the greatest in the world. Even in countries boosting stable economies like Peru, the contrast between rich and poor areas is palpable and one only needs to simply travel few hours out of a city to notice the difference in the population and standards of living.
Most countries in the region generally lack a robust protection system when it comes to civil, social and human rights. While on the one hand there have been improvements in the health sector as well as in primary and secondary education, social policies in the region lack the stability and consistency to address development issues systematically. Children in the region are particularly vulnerable and their rights are routinely violated both in rural and urban areas. Bolivia has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, probably due to the fact that indigenous groups make up a large portion of its population. Across the region indigenous groups are the largest disadvantaged group: they often lack political representation, they have limited access to education, and they are generally subject to poor working conditions.
Flora & Fauna
South America’s pre-Hispanic ruins, first and foremost Peru’s Machu Picchu attract visitors from all over the world; the region is known for its arid and breathtaking landscapes such as the Bolivian salt flat or Peru’s desert dunes, that contrast with its lavish rain and cloud forests. This is one of the most diverse areas in the world in terms of biodiversity of its flora and fauna. Unfortunately forests across the region are being destroyed for mining and oil drilling, and to make space for cattle ranching and high-scale soy farming. Dependency on one-crop production threatens livelihoods of small farmers and in countries like Paraguay, landlocked, with few mineral resources, and highly dependent on agriculture, this is particularly hindering to the overall development. Luckily small scale organic farming is gradually becoming popular among small producers, and this is in turn reversing some of the damage that the use of chemical products has done to soil, water resources and the environment in general. Addressing environmental issues is key to the development of the region.
2Way Development in South America
2Way Development supports local organisations committed to tackling the regions most important development issues, from educational programmes for children and youths, to conservation and wildlife protection, micro-credit and enterprise development, and human rights promotion and protection. All our partners do incredible work by helping communities become familiar with local laws, encouraging them to play an active role in order to drive the development processes in their areas. We work in: