The high Andes must be one of the most inhospitable places on earth. There’s precious little oxygen, and the temperature never rises much above freezing. So why is there a town in this unlikely spot?
Rinconada is the highest shantytown in the world where 20,000 inhabitants survive the freezing conditions in squalor – without sewers, piped water, or the rule of law. Today it’s a hide-out for the truly desperate and for those on the run from the authorities. The excrement and rubbish from 20,000 people have been piling up for decades. Snow melt washes sewage, and pollution from the mines, into the Rio Carabaya which ends up in Lake Titicaca. It means the drinking water for over a million people is threatened by Rinconada. Earth Report visits this town of broken dreams, to find out to reduce the environmental threat from Peru’s small-scale gold mines.