Tag Archives: Water

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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Five Ways in which South American Communities Feel the Impact of Climate Change

Valerie GiesenReports by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Bank show that communities across South America are already feeling the impact of climate change today—and that these are likely to intensify in the future. According to the IPCC, the economies of most Latin American countries depend on agriculture, which means that climatic change and extreme weather events that affect farming also pose a tangible threat to economic prosperity and developmental goals in the region. A 2012 World Bank Report even predicts that South America will be one of the regions hit hardest if temperatures rose by more than the internationally recognised 2°C target. This post will highlight five of the central ways in which South Americans are experiencing the effects of climate change:

1. Temperature: In South America, climate change has led to a variety of temperature changes. While the widely-cited 2007 IPCC report observed an overall 1°C increase in temperature across South America over the past decade, there has been significant regional variation, leading to diverse effects. For instance, Bolivia’s highlands have actually cooled by 1°C over the past five decades, while there is some evidence for rising temperatures in the lowlands. In a 2009 World Bank Report, Drs. Lykke Andersen and Dorte Verner show that the contradictory trends of average temperatures have led to uneven social and economic effects of climate change in Bolivia. They estimate that the cooling experienced in the country’s highlands has reduced income in these areas by about 2–3 percent. In the country’s wealthier lowlands, no such negative trends were observed. This means that in Bolivia changes in temperature affect the population of the comparatively poor highlands disproportionately, compared to the wealthier lowland of the country. Read More »

First in Queue: How improving water access for the poor can help meet other Millennium Development Goals.


The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set to reduce by half the number of people without access to clean water by 2015 as target ten of goal number seven: ensure environmental sustainability. And—although this fact remains controversial*—this target was met three years early in March 2012. However, this is not a cause for complacency since, according to the 2012 report by the Joint Monitoring Program—the body that carries out MDGs target assessments—780 million people are still at the back of the queue for access to clean water. In the future, improving access to water for the remaining three quarters of a million people without it will need to become a bigger, more crosscutting priority because it has much more to offer than environmental sustainability. Read More »

Relevance of Ancient Technologies to Today’s Global Problems

“More and more and higher-level technology” is heralded as the way that the human population will eventually get itself out of the global troubles it has wreaked. Under-researched genetically modified seeds to be sold to poor rural farmers in India; financially, socially and environmentally expensive Three Dams Project in China; and ethically dubious biofuel alternatives made in order to stem the toxic air pollution of the global transport industry. Each high-tech solution has its merits and its downfalls, of course, but do we always need to be looking forward or could we learn something from our ancestors? Read More »

Graphics: How Much Water Do You Eat?

Meat production is thirsty business. Do you know much water do you eat? INESAD’s latest inforgraphic provides some real food for thought. Did you know, for example that a beef burger takes 2,400 litres of water to produce, compared to 170 litres for a vegetarian burger.

Find out more at www.unwater.org and www.waterfootprint.org.  Read More »

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