Integral solutions in solid waste management and wastewater treatment for growing cities

As more and more people move from the countryside to the city, the disposal of refuse and sewage is becoming a problem even in small towns. The authorities are developing their planning capacities through courses, experience exchange and tools focused on how to implement integrated and efficient solid and liquid waste management.

  • Project Name
    Municipal Environmental Management
  • Project Phase
    2019 to 2023
  • Funding
    This project is a SDC mandate in Bolivia.
  • Thematic focus
    WASH & Water Governance
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    Urban Engagement
    Climate & Disaster Resilience

This project was completed in 2023.

Keeping on course for a sanitation solution in fast-growing cities

Worldwide, nearly 200,000 people move from the countryside to the city every day! In town, so they hope, they’ll find everything that is missing in the countryside: schools, hospitals, drinking water, shopping facilities, work and income. On their arrival, most of them settle in peri-urban areas of both large cities and intermediate and small cities, where they face an unemployment life, insecurity and poor access to basic services.

The municipalities are often overwhelmed by the population growth and the sanitation problems that come along with it. They do have experience in planning water supply systems and road networks, but planning environmental measures poses greater challenges. In close collaboration with the Bolivian Environment and Water Ministry, HELVETAS is supporting municipal authorities in their efforts to ensure efficient and sustainable solid waste management and wastewater treatment services in 11 small and intermediate municipalities, including the country's capital city, Sucre. The target is to treat 75% of the wastewater and correctly dispose of 50% of the solid waste collected from the population.

© Helvetas
© Helvetas

These are the usual and visible answers to urban sanitation problems. But our urban environment project takes an upstream approach that starts long before building such facilities. In courses, procedure development and manuals, municipal government workers are learning to ascertain requirements, set up technical solutions and get planning processes going, that promote the sustainability and efficiency of basic environmental services and seek the permanent use of waste, with a circular economy approach. They are also learning to capitalize on a previously untapped resource: the knowledge and demands of the population concerned. The townsfolk, for their part, are learning not only to make their suggestions and demands heard by the authorities, but also to change their habits regarding their solid waste responsible management and their sanitary facilities care. In general, the project's actions will benefit approximately 350,000 people who will improve their life quality.

This urban environment project is complex and demands plenty of staying power on the part of everyone involved. But it’s worth it: because national government institutions as well as regional and municipal authorities, academia and civil society are part of the project, their improved understanding of how to cope with the mounting sanitation issues of the urban population boom will have knock-on effects on environmental management in other small municipalities and big cities as well.

This project is a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation mandate in Bolivia, implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (leader) and Aguatuya Foundation.

© Helvetas
© Helvetas

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