Improving food security in Collana, La Paz, Bolivia

Duration: 2010-2011
Supported by: AECID (Spain)
Partners: FUNDESO (Spain)

The Collana district has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in Bolivia. This is because many households do not earn enough money or produce enough food to meet their dietary requirements for the whole year.  The objective of this project is to reduce food insecurity and under nutrition amongst poor communities in Collana, Aroma Province in La Paz, Bolivia. 3,900 people will be able to benefit from this project. 

Photo: Don Apolinar has been trained to give veterinary care to  his cattle

Before the project started, Don Apolinar told Practical Action that people in his community derived their income solely from the sale of cattle, which, due to illness or an unseasonably cold climate and lack of forage such as grasses for food, weaken and sometimes died. People in his community suffered from a lack of technical knowhow of how to prevent cattle losses.

His community also lacked water, which had an impact on the health of people and animals. Changes in climate had affected agricultural production. Lack of rain and pests threatened crops. The rains are coming later in the year, hindering the effective growth of quinoa which is a staple crop for families in the area. Potato pests such as worms and moths caused low output, leaving little for the sustenance of the family. These problems forced people to sell their livestock, and they cannot raise enough money to meet essential needs such as vegetables, oil and rice.

With consideration of these problems farmers faced, this project concentrated on four main areas:

1. Improving the availability, varieties and uses of food to increase food consumption and allow malnourished people to gain protein and micronutrients (especially women and children). This has included prioritizing forestation using seedlings of native varieties of vegetables (e.g. keñua, kiswara). Short-cycle crops and small animal husbandry are also being facilitated which increase food security in the face of climate change.
2. Strengthening productive capacities to adapt to climate change and to improve natural resource management. This has included the re-introduction of native seeds as an adaptation strategy combined with crop calendar management training.
3. Improving capacities to reduce the impact of emergencies and extreme weather events on livelihoods and food supply. This has included the use of live barriers for the protection of seedlings and animals from wind and frost.
4. Ensuring food security policies focus on the most vulnerable populations of Bolivia. This has included advocacy for better linkages between disaster risk reduction and food security and the publication of ‘Early Warning and Food Security Plan in the Municipality of Collana’.

Photo: Aurora Mamani

Aurora Mamani was trained as an agricultural promoter by Practical Action. Aurora is very happy and is hopeful for the future. She is now able to use wells and drinking troughs, which were built as part of the project and says; “They are great! There is clean water even for my cows!”

A little over a month ago, this enterprising woman, finished building a chicken coop to raise the chickens that the project supplied. Providing animals that reproduce quickly and provide eggs will help improve the daily diet for families and increase their food security.

Aurora also has more knowledge of technology that can help improve the lives of her and her family. She told us that although the conditions of food supply have improved, they still have no surpluses to sell. “This year is dry, but even so we can vary our diet with quinoa, potatoes and other vegetables that we are harvesting for the first time in my plot”, she said.

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