Indigenous communities in Peru use smartphones to fight back at pollution

By December 18, 2017

Indigenous communities in Peru are turning to smartphones and drones to save the Amazon from pollution.

Using advanced technology one would normally expect to be scarce in the rainforest, Amazonians are doing the jobs of state and private oil companies, reports The Guardian.

According to the story, a community in Peru, who suffer due to regular oil spills, are fighting back armed with devices to notify environmental supervision agencies – such as the OEFA.

One leader in the indigenous Achuar community of San Cristobal, the northern Amazon said how frustrated he was with how “everything is polluted”, The Guardian reports.

Fidel Sandi, 33, revealed how trees were dying and one woman was quoted saying how her children had died due to oil being present in the river.

Sandi uses his smartphone to gather geo-reference photographic and video evidence to report to the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement. He also operates drones from his village to spot oil spills and report them.

The community he lives in is Pluspetrol territory – the country’s biggest oil and gas producer. Oil-drilling has been going on in the area for decades.

And other communities have suffered, too.

According to The Guardian, Peru’s health ministry found 90% of Achuar men, women and children had levels of toxic-heavy metals in their bloodstreams in 2006.

Pluspetrol signed an agreement pledging to cut back on pollution that same year.

But the community still has a long way to go.

For the communities in the Amazon, nothing will bring back loved ones who have died or improve the health of those with pollution-induced cancer, deformities or low-cognitive development.

They can only hope that the new technologies will nudge lawmakers and oil companies into check.