Stunning new pictures show how a Peruvian Amazon nation is moving to renewable energy thanks to Welsh Government funding

The pictures, which have been released to celebrate Size of Wales’ Go Green Week, show how the Wampís people have benefitted from £55,000 of Welsh Government funding.

The Wampís people are indigenous to the Peruvian Amazon.

They have a population of just 15,000 but their territory covers 1.3 million hectares of tropical forest and is extremely biodiverse, 98% of the forest remains intact, despite pressures from illegal logging, gold mining and oil exploration.

A study estimated that their forests can store 145 million tonnes of carbon and Size of Wales has been supporting the Wampís Nation since 2016.  

Julie James, the then Minister for Climate Change, met representatives from the Wampís Nation at COP27 in Glasgow in 2021 and again at Biodiversity COP in Montreal in 2022.

As a result of these meetings, the Welsh Government – through Size of Wales – provided funding to the Wampís to support their goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy and paying for the construction of a ten-seater solar powered boat – the first of its kind in Peru.

The boat is already providing an invaluable service to the Wampís nation by helping community members visit health centres, go to school, transport harvest, carry out other daily activities and patrol the river.

This includes vital services such as taking pregnant mothers from local communities to the local health post to attend pregnancy check-ups, as well as taking children to monthly health check-ups.

Julie James, now Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Local Government and Planning said: 

Meeting the Wampís People was a highlight of my time in Glasgow and in Montreal.

They have a fascinating history and listening to their stories really makes you realise just how real and current the threat of climate change is to people across the world.

I was delighted to be able to support the Wampís People through Size of Wales and have enjoyed this latest update as to how the funding is being used.

I am also pleased that this funding support will help strengthening the Wampís nation to protect their forest, culture and livelihoods.

Since receiving the Size of Wales funding, two solar ports have been installed in the Wampís territory.

These can generate renewable energy for the community without using polluting fossil fuels.

The solar ports have been housed in a small warehouse constructed by the local community to ensure that the equipment is kept safe and well maintained.

The funding has also been used to training Wampís Indigenous technicians (8 men and 1 woman) in solar technology and the installation, operation and management of solar panels.

Climate Change and Rural Affairs Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies added: 

I have really enjoyed getting this update from the Peruvian Amazon and it is fascinating to learn how this Size of Wales funding has been put to excellent use.

I will meet representatives from the Wampís Nation when they travel to Wales later this year and I really look forward to learning more then as well as getting updates on how the Welsh Government has been able to help them move to renewable energy and fight climate change.

Kara Solar based in Ecuador has partnered with Size of Wales to provide the training.

This link has also promoted learning and sharing between the Achuar Nation in Ecuador who already have solar boats with their neighbours, the Wampís Nation, in Peru. 

Carmen Pirucho Huar said: 

Us mothers have been able to travel safely to attend pregnancy health checks and others have taken their children for check-ups.

At first, I was scared because the boat doesn’t make any sound but it does work. It travels forward like a small boat without making any noise.

In an hour and a half, we arrived without wasting fuel because it has a solar panel.

I thank the Wampís Nation and those who have helped us have this boat because it so environmentally friendly.

This is the first time in my life, I have seen a boat that does not need petrol to move. It is really remarkable.