Tag Archives: migration

Chasing a moving target: 100% coverage of water and sanitation in Bolivia by 2025

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Last month I participated in a very interesting workshop on water and sanitation in rural Bolivia organized by the Ministry of Environment and Water. I learned from the engineers and sociologists there that things are never as simple as economists tend to think. But as the only economist present, I also tried to teach the engineers and sociologists that things are not as simple as they tend to think.

With the combined insights from engineers, sociologists and economists, I have reached the conclusion that 100% coverage is an elusive target for at least five different reasons:

First, the population growth rate in Bolivia is about 1.5% per year, which means that even if we reach 100% coverage by January 2025, by December the same year there will be almost 200,000 additional people who need water and sanitation.

Second, the population is not only constantly growing, but also constantly moving. More than half of all Bolivian municipalities are losing population due to internal migration (see Map 1 below), while a few dozen municipalities are receiving the vast majority of these migrants. The main receiving municipalities are: Santa Cruz de la Sierra (32,000 migrants per year), El Elto (20,000), Cochabamba (11,000), La Guardia (6,000), Warnes (6,000), Oruro (6,000), Sacaba (6,000), and Tarija (5,000) (1). Close to a million Bolivians will have moved from one municipality to another between now and 2025, and most of them will likely come from the disperse rural communities that the government is currently prioritizing for water and sanitation investments. The most extreme example in the map below is the municipality of Chayanta in the northern part of Potosí. In the five years before the 2012 population census, it lost 29% of its population to migration, despite having just reached 94% coverage of water.

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Guest Roast: Why all borders are man-made: A response to DevRoast

In historical narratives encouraged by nation states and internalized by most of us, borders often take a natural character, enforcing the nation state as a ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’ fact. However, these narratives obscure the fact that it is the state itself that drives the process of creating, defining and consolidating borders and their adjacent areas. This article explains how and why, using examples from Europe and Latin America. 

On March 28, Tracey Li wrote on the origin of borders here on the Development Roast. While the piece is both well-researched and well-written, it fails to elaborate on the centrality of states in driving the process that creates and defines national borders. Instead, agency is implicitly attributed to the (‘natural’) borders themselves: “the existence of natural borders in Europe and their absence in Africa is what makes the difference between multi-ethnic polities and ethnically homogenous ones.”

The Pyrenees between France and Spain is held up as an example of such a natural border that discourages migration and more or less naturally creates two national communities. This is incorrect: migration across the Pyrenees and around the region was common for centuries before the national border was determined. The evidence of this is clear: the Occitan language spoken in the south of France and Catalan spoken on the “Spanish side” of the mountains are closer to each other than either is to French or Spanish (or Castellano, as the Catalans call it) respectively. Read More »

Migration Restrictions as a Barrier to Development

Living abroad is undoubtedly one of life’s most enjoyable, interesting, and eye-opening experiences. By stimulating economic growth and cultural exchange, it is also something that literally and figuratively enriches entire nations and the world as a whole. So, does placing restrictions on cross-border migration present a possible barrier to economic and human development?

My parents are originally from Hong Kong and emigrated to the U.K. during the 1960s, along with many thousands of other Hong Kong citizens. My mother arrived without knowing a word of English yet was welcomed warmly by the medical training school that she attended. She stayed in the U.K., working as a nurse for nearly 40 years, while others chose to return to Hong Kong, taking back with them the education, training and experience that they had acquired abroad.

Following in my parents’ international footsteps, for the past couple of years I have lived and worked in Spain. Aside from some logistical and social obstacles – such as finding a new house, making new friends, and learning a new language – the process of emigrating and starting a job there was pretty simple. For many people, however, emigrating abroad, permanently or temporarily, is much more difficult as many countries have strict immigration constraints against the inflow of citizens of certain nations.

The extent of this problem is illustrated by the results of a survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the French Agency for Development (AFD), who collected data from 146 countries between 2008 and 2010. They found that roughly 630 million adults, around 14 percent of all adults in the world, said that they would like to move to another country permanently if they had the opportunity. Findings from the Gallup World Poll also revealed that around 1.2 million people wanted to migrate temporarily for work purposes. However, only ten percent of the people who said they would like to migrate were actually planning to do so in the following year. Clearly, there is something preventing the other 90 percent from pursuing their dream of migrating. Read More »


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