Each year, more than USD 13 billion in international aid goes to water projects. The vast majority is spent on infrastructure for safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
Less often considered are watersheds, which supply the water that runs through that infrastructure, or measures to respond to changing conditions caused by climate, land use, demographic shifts and economic development.
In the Bolivia WATCH project, SEI set out to connect these areas – WASH and watersheds – with a focus on three watersheds in Bolivia, to ensure a reliable, equitable supply of clean water for all water users.
One of the central achievements of Bolivia WATCH in 2022 was the delivery of three watershed master plans for the Tupiza, Pampa Huari and the ChoqueyapuLa Paz river basins – the result of a collaboration between SEI, the cities of Tupiza, Potosí and La Paz, key local stakeholders, and Sida Bolivia.
The master plans empower local authorities to take ownership of their water management and contribute to city planning. The goal is also to equalize water access in the river basins and reduce conflict, distributing water fairly and sustainably across communities, industrial sectors and ecosystems.
In the city of Tupiza, for example, 98% of residents have access to household water supply, while only 70% of residents in the surrounding rural communities can say the same. The rural-urban gap also occurs along gender lines: in the city, men and women have near-equal ability to pay for water, while in the rural communities, men have greater capacity to pay.
Bolivia WATCH sought to rectify these inequalities through the design of the master plans.
The work began in 2019, prompted by Sida’s aim to support integrated water planning and sanitation in Bolivia. It incorporates SEI tools such as WEAP, REVAMP and WASH Flows to balance ecological, agricultural, municipal and sanitation needs.
Local technicians and communities worked alongside SEI to co-design the plans, which meant that water users’ needs were adequately reflected. This approach is a critical feature of Bolivia WATCH and its equity efforts.
“For us as an institution and as authorities, it is very important to have this work as a planning instrument, for the management of our water resources of the Tupiza River,” said Jesús Guzmán Ortega, Honourable Mayor of the Municipality of Tupiza. “This work will be of great use for future planning in our municipality. The most important thing is that this instrument has been prepared jointly with all the actors involved, from the communities, municipal technicians, SEI experts and Bolivia WATCH technicians. This work will be included in our Territorial Development Plan, and we can attest to the fact that it has been a great contribution.”
This work will be of great use for future planning in our municipality. The most important thing is that this instrument has been prepared jointly with all the actors involved, from the communities, municipal technicians, SEI experts and Bolivia WATCH technicians. This work will be included in our Territorial development Plan and we can attest to the fact that it has been a great contribution.
Jesús Guzmán Ortega, Honourable Mayor of the Municipality of Tupiza
In March, the Bolivia WATCH team shared the findings of the report with municipal officials from Tupiza, Colcha K and Atocha, as well as representatives from the Department of Potosí in March. More recently, the team delivered the Pampa-Huari plan and the delivered the Choqueyapu-La Paz plan.
“Now we have a diagnostic tool, with defined strategic lines. We even have a tool like the hydrological model thanks to the Stockholm Environment Institute,” said Gary Janco, technician of the Secretariat of Mother Earth at the Potosí Department’s government.
“This allows us to help our authorities make decisions regarding drinking water and sanitation, and make our goals come true, projecting the care of this Mother Earth from an efficient, rational and equitable use of water.”
After the close of the project’s first phase, Bolivia WATCH expects to continue through to 2026. The project will focus on aligning with Sida’s five-year development cooperation strategy for Bolivia, and the next stage of the country’s Pluri-National Water Resources Plan (PPRH) to guide its implementation towards greater impact on tackling poverty and protecting the environment.
The new phase will aim to build on the successes of the first phase, and position these within the proposed framework of the PPRH. Focus will be on implementing the new Swedish development cooperation strategy in Bolivia, scaling up the achievements from the first phase, and generating new activities aligned with implementing the PPRH.
Co-design is an important plank of Bolivia WATCH because it empowers local authorities and stakeholders to make their own decisions, informed by science. The modelling and data provided by SEI tools such as WEAP, REVAMP and WASH Flows allow decision-makers to chart the way forward on water access and sanitation in their communities.
Bolivia WATCH turned local water planning from a top-down process to a collaboration among stakeholders to produce policies that take a wide range of water users’ needs into account, and the health of the local ecosystem. A diverse set of partners contributed to the planning process, allowing for a more democratic and comprehensive result.
Design and development by Soapbox.