PRODERM was a rural development project financed by the Netherlands, the European Economic Community and the State of Peru. The project was carried out in the department of Cusco (learn more about its history here (pdf)).

The design of the Pachamama Raymi methodology started in 1986 when Humberto van der Zel, a Dutch expert in rural development, was in search of ways to improve the parcel irrigation for a great number of irrigation systems constructed by PRODERM in the highlands of Cusco, Peru. Humberto van der Zel commissioned the capacitation of parcel irrigation to Willem van Immerzeel. 

Willem understood this task as follows: In the remaining time of the PRODERM project, more than 4,500 families (about 30% of the target population) had to adopt more efficient forms of parcel irrigation (see details here (pdf)), as those used in Arequipa. There was insufficient capacity available to the project to achieve this target in only a short period of time. What was missing was a tool, a procedure, to improve the capacity of the project. These highly demanding targets inspired the first proposal (pdf). Moreover, as a result of these highly demanding targets, the new system was optimized during the years that followed. 
Not only was it necessary to define targets in terms of the number of families, they had to be formulated in terms of contents, of innovations to be introduced. Therefore, Willem sought to find two things: a clear definition of the general themes; and persons who had experience in the field, possessing the tacit knowledge of highly efficient irrigation. To define the general themes he used a simulation model used WOFOST, which turned out to be very useful. The field experience he found in the Unu Kamayoq from Arequipa, a group of local experts in water management. He came across this group through the project Plan Meriss Inka. The logic behind the design of Pachamama Raymi is simple: “development” implies the generation of changes. This means the initial task of every development project should be:
  • Define which changes have to be introduced (contents, innovations);
  • Determine how many persons should apply these innovations;
  • Define how to introduce these, and;
  • Introduce the changes, achieving the adoption of the innovations for a relevant percentage of the population. 

The success of the project depends on the efficiency and effectiveness of each of these steps. This was the logic behind the design of the Pachamama Raymi tool. This reasoning was questioned and discussed in PRODERM and the discussion was continued and repeated in many project, until today. The development of Pachamama Raymi profited from these discussions, which allowed the maturation of the reasoning used by the methodology.

The first proposal was a system, which entailed the following elements:

  • Demanding targets regarding the contents (innovations to be implemented).
  • Demanding targets regarding the number of families which need to implement the innovations, in a short period of time. 
These first two elements are the foundation of the Pachamama Raymi instrument, which was designed in order to achieve these. There are two more elements:
  • A combination of capacitating farmer-to-farmer (peer-learning) and providing incentives: contests between families and communities, and
  • A set of “intercultural bridges”, suitable to the intercultural context in which Pachamama Raymi operates (ideological, sociological and technological bridges. See the book: Pachamama Raymi, la Fiesta de la Capacitation (pdf)). 
The first contest in irrigation (in reality there were four contest, one in every micro region) was carried out in August, 1988 (see the photographic recount of Unu Kamachiq). The project was approved by Jos Bult, European co-director, who feared the project was somewhat ´frivolous´. The experience was evaluated by Carlos Gutierrez (pdf), who concluded that everyone had been very enthusiastic, but that none of the farmers had implemented the innovations. Willem van Immerzeel used this information to formulate the proposition (pdf) of the first Pachamama Raymi contest (January, 1989), and proposed to re-orientate the contests in order to achieve the implementation of innovations in daily practice and to integrate the activities of PRODERM which require “capacitation”. The new system of capacitation added a new element, new to rural development:
  • Project funds are distributed according to the quality of the management (implementation and execution of the innovations) as shown by the families and communities. 

This element of the Pachamama Raymi system, as well as several others, were considered as rather controversial by persons working for PRODERM, and others. The proposal was rejected, and the previously used irrigation contest, which the name “Unu Kamachiq Raymi”, was repeated. Moreover, complementary contests (on vegetables and more) were organized, with the aim of implementing a set of technical innovations. Instead of integrating the Pachamama Raymi methodology in the project, the teams in the micro regions opted for the “systemic watershed approach” (pdf).

In November 1989 Willem presented the Pachamama Raymi proposal again, which was improved by the idea of Juan Nuñez del Prado to involve the mayors of the municipalities (nov. 1989 (pdf)). This time the proposal was accepted. Only one of the four micro regions was able to involve the district government (Pomacanchi, Acomayo). The first Pachamama Raymi contest was carried out in 1990, ending in August the same year.  

PRODERM ended its activities in the rural areas around the same time. Willem and Juan Nuñez del Prado wrote about the gained experience in the first Pachamama Raymi book (pdf). The drafting of this book ended in September 1990, and nine months later the book was published. In the following years, the book was reprinted twice (the first time for the Rural Coordinator, the second time for the PAC-II project and Euroconsult, see photographs).

At the end of PRODERM, it was concluded that Pachamama Raymi is an instrument which had shown to have much potential in the sense that it could generate concrete results (families implementing a set of innovations within a short period of time), at a low cost and at a large scale. However, the project ran out of time. It was frustrating that it was not possible to continue the introduction of the innovations for two more years through the newly designed and tuned Pachamama Raymi tool, in order to achieve the demanding targets of development. 

However, the enthusiasm generated by the first contests in the Department of Cusco, and in the whole of Peru, inspired other organizations to use the striking Pachamama Raymi elements. This was the case for IAA in Cusco, CEDAP in Ayachucho, CADEP-JMA in Cusco, and the National Project of Hydrographic Watershed Management and Conservation of the Soil (PRONAMACHCS) at the national level, which was carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture of Peru. The latter institution used the contests to motive the people to undertake soil conservation works and to organize “farmer meetings”, including a tournament for the winning teams from different regions. Several institutions put emphasis on the theme of transcultural participation, such as ITDG (pdf) in Sicuani (Cusco, Peru). 


1990IAA (Peru) 1992CEDAP PAC II (Bolivia) 1995Pachamaman Urupa Qhantawi (Bolivia) SID Bolivia 1996Alto Verapaz Program (Guatemala) PLAN MERISS INKA (Peru) 1998MARENASS (Peru) 1999MASAL (Peru) 2001DEXCEL International 2003Araucanía Tierra Viva Program (Chile) SID Guatemala (USA) 2004Jaén San Ignacio Bagua Special Project (Peru) PRODEPINE (Ecuador) 2005Adoption of terraces in the Peruvian Andes IPSWAM (Bangladesh) PROMARENA (Bolivia) SIERRA SUR Project (Peru) VSF CICDA (Bolivia) 2006 Altagro (Peru and Bolivia) A PhDDesde el Surco (Ecuador) Pachamama Raymi SERMANU (Peru) 2007ADEMA (Bolivia) ALIADOS (Peru) Concejo Nacional del Ambiente Leren van Elkaar (Holand) Runamaki (Peru) 2008Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo (Peru) Kirehe Community Based Watershed Management Project (KWAMP), Rwanda, Africa MIDEPLAN (Chile) 2009AID FOR PERU 2010PACC Peru2012First Contest of Healthy Homes in OcobambaSuyana FoundationTransboundary Joint Secretariat for the Southern Caucasus, Promoting Cooperation in Nature Conservat2013Tufts University 2014Puririsun Kuska