In 2014, Bolivia was devastated by extreme flooding that reached 7 departments, 129 municipalities and 1,813 communities, damaging infrastructure (housing, educational units, water systems) and livelihoods (lost crops, lost productive areas). Many affected still lack access to clean drinking water, leaving communities susceptible to illness and disease. Water sources are also threatened by natural contaminants such as coliforms, giardia and other bacteria, as well as heavy metals and other chemicals from industrial sugar cane plants and gold mines.
Green Empowerment has supported projects in Bolivia since 2016 working with local government and partner, Practical Action Bolivia, in the western highlands near La Paz and the Amazonian lowlands near Rurrenabaque. Together, Green Empowerment and Practical Action Bolivia are rebuilding infrastructure and increasing communities’ resilience to extreme weather events, prioritizing renewable energy and productive end use projects that will also spur rural economic development.
In the Lowlands
We are installing potable water systems with elevated components to resist flooding, training community leaders on system operation and maintenance and developing integrated plans to evaluate risk and understand communities’ vulnerabilities. We are also increasing access to electricity by repairing micro-hydro systems damaged by flooding and bringing PV-powered cold storage and ice-making equipment to fishing communities, so they can safely preserve their catch and sell at neighboring markets at a 40% premium.
In the Highlands
We are working with llama-raising families to install solar water systems to improve pasture irrigation and provide livestock with clean drinking water. Although families use a number of ancestral techniques to combat the highlands’ harsh climate, extended drought and devastating frosts are having an unprecedented impact in recent years. We are also working to improve health outcomes in the highlands through improved cook stove projects that reduce smoke and toxic emissions from traditional stoves (fireplaces).