Living without Water

What’s it like to live without running water? In Peru’s sprawling capital, Lima, this is the everyday reality for 1.5 million children and adults, forced to pay up to a week’s salary for just one day’s water. And the problem isn’t confined to the capital, across the country, the shortage of water is putting lives in danger and provoking conflict, as it displaces communities and threatens their agricultural livelihoods.

Climate change is partly to blame, but in this film we explore how European consumers are making this crisis worse. The fruit and vegetables – avocados, asparagus, exotic fruit – which end up on our supermarket shelves are literally sucking Peru’s land dry.

In Lima we meet some of the families struggling to live without one of life’s basic necessities. With only a few litres of water a week, their children’s health is at risk, and they’re at the mercy of unscrupulous businessmen, whose water trucks sell allegedly contaminated water at inflated prices. For other, the situation is even bleaker – we meet the community without access to any form of water supply – forced to beg their neighbours every day for enough water to wash and cook.

Outside of Lima, in the province of Ica, we meet the farmers whose once-fertile land has been turned into a desert by the intensive agriculture of large-scale export growers, whose produce is destined for the European market.

The country’s booming agriculture industry is draining water away from local people and farmers, and lowering the underground water levels at an alarming rate. “The question is only whether the situation is critical, or super critical,” says the head of the local water board head.

And up in the Andes, we hear stories of how projects to feed water down to this intensive farming have allegedly led to the deaths of a number of indigenous men, women and children – not to mention thousands of their livestock.

But there are no easy answers to the deepening crisis. Peru’s industries have brought jobs, wealth and even women’s empowerment to vast areas that used to be desperately poor. The country’s prospering export economy – kickstarted by funding from the World Bank and other international bodies – is held up as a model for other developing nations.

This film goes right to the heart of the water crisis – showing how society’s poorest are caught in the middle of a struggle between business, climate change and international politics.


  • Year: 2016
  • Duration: 49’30"
  • Production:
  • Available Versions: ENG
  • Country of production: UK & FINLAND



  • Festivals EKOTOP FILM/ENVIROFILM festival (Slovakia); Matsalu Nature Film Festival (Estonia);

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