Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2009


Ignation Center at Santa Clara University


When I first arrived in the Peruvian Altiplano as a Maryknoll missioner 15 years ago, I was struck by the presence of a beautifully engineered system of irrigation canals extending through several communities. Engineers love to solve problems, and seeing progress like this in a very poor region of mostly subsistence farming was encouraging…until I learned that it had never delivered a drop of water, and probably never would. The design of the system had been done by outsiders unfamiliar with the intricacies of farming in the harsh, high-elevation climate, completely unaware of the unique form of land ownership. As a water resources engineer, I began my journey of reflection on the role of engineers in serving the poor in less developed areas.



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