A land of contrasts
Most Bolivians live in towns and cities that are vulnerable to floods, droughts and freezes. Meanwhile, smallholder farmers living in rural areas struggle to live off the meagre yields of their farmland – almost a third of them living in extreme poverty.
We opened our office in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, a decade ago. We were already active in the country through our consulting work as Practical Action Consulting. Through this work, we’d clocked up ten years of experience working on projects relating to energy, local governance and disaster prevention.
We centre our work on the most urgent needs of disadvantaged rural groups. Some of the most pressing of these relate to disaster threats, scarce livelihoods and very limited access to basic services such as clean water and electricity.
Our activities are developed alongside local partners, as well as with the support of the alliances and agreements established with state organizations, producers’ associations, and cooperatives.
Bolivia straddles an active fault line, which results in frequent floods. A precarious situation for an already poor country.
Farming that works
Bolivia’s agricultural sector is at a standstill. Despite one third of the population living in rural areas, most farmers barely grow enough food to feed their families, never mind have any left over to sell. Our sustainable approach to addressing this challenge benefits both people and planet. Read more…
Farmers in poor parts of Bolivia are barely surviving from their land. Life is a constant struggle to grow enough food to be able to feed their families. When things are this desperate, harvesting enough crops to be able to earn a profit from farming feels like a distant dream.
We’re helping people become more resilient to food insecurity by helping them access a whole package of climate-friendly farming practices. One of these is better irrigation methods, which harness the power of the sun to pump water to where it’s needed.
We’re also helping vulnerable groups, such as women and indigenous people, get access to the markets and funding they need to make their businesses a success. By joining them up to the right resources through training, funding and knowledge sharing, they’re able to revitalise their family businesses.
We’ll be rolling out our model of sustainable farming across hundreds of thousands of acres of land in the future. By working closely with communities and talented local partners, we’ll help Bolivia’s poorest farmers grow enough to feed their families and build an income.
Resilience that protects
Earthquakes and floods are a constant threat in Bolivia. In the ten years from 2002-2012 nearly half of the population was effected in a significant way by these disasters. Every year, homes are destroyed, farm animals are killed and acres of farmland are rendered unusable. We’re helping people become more resilient to these disasters. Read more…
Imagine living your life not knowing when the next drought, flood, earthquake, or even volcanic eruption might turn your world upside down. For people living in poverty in Bolivia this is their reality every day. With no reliable way of forecasting disasters, they are unable to take steps to protect their families from life-changing events.
We’re introducing forecasting systems into vulnerable communities so that they are more likely to know in advance when disasters are likely to strike. These systems are owned and run locally, with people trained to be able to use them effectively. We also help people prepare for disasters, so that they cause less damage.
By training people to build earthquake and flood-resistant housing we make sure that when disaster does strike, people are better able to bounce back. We meet with communities to help make disaster plans and make sure that the most vulnerable people are taken into account and given a voice.
In the coming years, we’ll work with 80 municipalities in Bolivia who are particularly vulnerable to disasters. While strengthening the resilience of these communities we’ll be demonstrating the success of our approach, allowing us to work with the national Government to scale up our approach even further.
Energy that transforms
Most people living in Bolivia’s rural areas don’t have electricity. The hostile landscape and lack of investment means that expanding the national grid is slow. Thousands of families, schools and health clinics struggle along without any reliable form of electricity. Meanwhile, people cook using wood and charcoal, damaging both their health and the environment. Our sustainable energy solutions are transforming lives. Read more…
It’s women and children who bear the brunt of energy poverty. Women spend hours every day collecting firewood to use for fuel. They then have to cook with this wood, breathing in toxic fumes that are dangerous to their health. Children, especially girls, are often expected to lend a hand collecting wood. Their education suffers because they have less time for school and there are no reliable light sources for them to study by later in the day.
We’re working with local partners to bring clean cook stoves to the most deprived areas of rural Bolivia. These stoves use less fuel and produce less dangerous smoke. They mean that women are freed from spending half their day collecting wood and can use their time more productively in the home and in business. And the whole family is healthier now that the air is clean and smoke-free.
Our sustainable electricity schemes use the power of the sun and flowing water to generate clean, renewable energy. With electricity in their homes, school and clinics, families are happier and healthier. Children can study at home in the evening, women feel safer when they’re outside at night and businesses are more profitable now that they can use power tools and computers.
Our ambition is to work with 5% of Bolivia’s rural families by 2030, enabling them to have clean cook stoves and electricity for their homes and businesses. And we’ll work with local authorities to deliver a model of sustainable access that will benefit generations to come.
Practical Action‘s work improving food security through sustainable agriculture and clean energy was recognised in 2021. The Bolivian Chamber of Private Businessmen, the United Nations System and the UN Global Compact gave an SDG 2 Zero Hunger award to our team in Bolivia. The award marked their work with vulnerable rural communities struggling to cope with the effects of a changing climate and lack of access to markets and electricity.
Funding partners for our work in Bolivia include:
- European Union
- Zurich Foundation
- Swiss Development Cooperation
- Fondo Flamenco
- Green Empowerment
- Christadelphian Meal a Day
- Latin America Children Trust