SEATTLE — Bolivia is the most isolated country in South America. Landlocked and with a large proportion of indigenous people, Bolivia is one of the poorest countries below the equator. This may seem strange since Bolivia also has the second-largest reserves of natural gas in South America. However, tensions over the exploitation and export of this resource have run high for many years. The natural gas industry in Bolivia does not have a great worldwide impact, as their international activities do not even reach 1 percent. Because of this, the country is in a state of economic risk. But hope is not lost, as there are many development projects in Bolivia that are currently working to turn this South American country into a thriving nation.
Bolivia’s Land for Agricultural Development Project
Although this project was completed in 2014, it has had a lasting impact. The Land for Agricultural Development Project in Bolivia granted more than 150,000 hectares of land to poor farmers and indigenous people. Decentralizing the land market so poor farmers, indigenous people and women were able to make purchases was the central focus of this project. Consequently, the average family income increased by 39 percent and women’s involvement reached 38 percent. The Implementation Completion and Results Report, released on March 12, 2015, revealed that the Bolivian government’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and empowering indigenous people was instrumental to the success of the program.
Bolivia Urban Infrastructure Project
Because of its impoverished state, one of the many important development projects in Bolivia focuses on urban areas of the country. The Bolivia Urban Infrastructure Project’s objective is to improve access to basic services in Bolivia’s major cities. Through infrastructure investments, this project seeks to improve the standard of living in the poorest neighborhoods, enhance mobility in the major city of El Alto by modernizing public transportation services and expand sewerage coverage in poor areas.
Indigenous Forest Management for Climate Change Project
Bolivia’s indigenous people make up about two-thirds of its population. The Indigenous Forest Management for Climate Change Project aims to assist these people while also increasing their resilience in the face of climate change. While simultaneously protecting the forest ecosystem, this project will diversify these indigenous people’s income through integrated and sustainable forest management projects related to popular exports like cacao, coffee and essential oils. Together with the development of an urban constituency for conservation and the creation of national urban markets for green products, the project is aimed at protecting forests in indigenous territories and national parks, contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emission. This two-fold development project in Bolivia will improve these people’s livelihoods and contribute to fighting climate change.
Financing Sustainable Energy Through Remittances Flows
Reducing greenhouse gas emission while helping to aid in the lives of the poor is also at the heart of this project. Financing Sustainable Energy Through Remittances Flows is a project financed by the Nordic Development Fund. The objective of this project is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the resilience of low-income households to climate change impacts. It also seeks to reduce the cost of energy in rural and urban low-income households, while raising awareness about cleaner and less intensive energy sources. This method has been testing in developed countries; however, it had never been implemented in a developing country like Bolivia until this project was created.
Preventing violence and teen pregnancy in El Alto
Since children and adolescents make up 23 percent of Bolivia’s population, 49 percent of them girls, teen pregnancy is a major concern. The 2008 National Youth Survey revealed that an alarming 83 percent of adolescent girls and young women in El Alto are pregnant or already mothers by age 18. Violence and poverty are also prevalent in this area of Bolivia. UNICEF created a program that seeks to reduce the prevalence of teenage pregnancy and sexual violence against adolescent girls. By enabling adolescents to play an active role in demanding quality pregnancy prevention services, and addressing risk factors in their families, their communities and their schools, this program hopes to prevent violence and pregnancy among its youth. This example of impactful development projects in Bolivia also aligns with country priorities and the Bolivian government’s Plan for Integrated Adolescent Care 2015-2020.
With climate change, infrastructure, agriculture and adolescent health at the center of these development projects in Bolivia, it is evident that measures are being taken to lift Bolivia out of this impoverished state and into a developed status.
– Kailey Brennan