The Importance of Water in the Andean World and Its Destruction Today

Water is considered one of the most important elements of nature and the world where we live since it is the bearer of all life forms and an indispensable resource for every living being.

For the Andean world, water is much more than a natural resource, it is a living being and is cataloged as a deity of great importance. It comes from Viracocha, the creator god of the universe. He fertilizes the Pachamama (mother earth) and allows the reproduction of life. Water is, therefore, a divinity that is present in lakes, lagoons, the sea, rivers and all water sources.

It is considered semen to germinate the seeds in Pachamama or mother earth as water has the ability to fertilize soils and thus produce food for life.

A Waterfall by the Way to Lares
A Waterfall by the Way to Lares

From ancient times to today water is considered in Andean communities a source of life with a sacred value. For this reason, rituals were performed so that there would be an adequate harvest without drought.

So much is the importance and the value of the water that until now farmers of the Andean communities organize themselves to carry out canal cleaning tasks. Before they do so, they perform a ceremony in the eyes of water, places where the water is stored. Where the canals begin, in these watery eyes or springs, they make offerings of the K’intu or three sacred leaves of coca. They also make payments to the pachamama or mother earth. Later the peasants walk along the canals cleaning what they consider a common good, asource of life that must be cared for and respected.

Stunning Canal of Water (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Stunning Canal of Water (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Today this sacred value of water has been lost in many places around the world. Man sees it more as a commercial and economic value, as a factor of production, as a resource that is there to be used for profit of man. It is no more than an object of profitable exploitation.

We have mining companies that use a lot of water to extract the minerals, contaminating the water, the source of life with toxic waste and making it unfit for human consumption.

We pollute rivers and seas, with waste, garbage, with chemicals, killing living beings that live in it.

With climate change, the strong waves of heat are slowly melting the glaciers and snow, causing drought.

Qoyllority Snowy Peaks (Walter Coraza Morveli)
Qoyllority Snowy Peaks (Walter Coraza Morveli)

All these problems that we face today regarding water are the result of the bad actions of man, who is gradually destroying himself. The problem of global warming is a response of Mother Nature to all the damage, the pollution that man performs.

Today we see that the authorities are privatizing water, we see confrontations between countries to have access to water.

In the Andean world, the technological and social systems of water management start from the principle of harmonious coexistence that must exist with Mother Earth thanks to which they managed to guarantee the sustainability of ecosystems since time immemorial.

Hopefully man becomes aware of the value of this element and its importance as a source of life and therefore preserves, respects, and recognize its value, but does not exploit it and contaminate it, as he has been doing now because the only thing it will achieve is to destroy.

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