At an altitude of over 4,000 m, the climate is harsh and alternates between extreme solar radiation and icy temperatures. These extremes have always posed formidable challenges to small farmers in the Bolivian highlands. But now climate change is making conditions even more difficult for farming communities in the Andes. The extended dry season and the resulting scarcity of water make it hard for the rural population to sustain their livelihoods.
Helvetas supports farmers to adapt farming methods to these adverse conditions. Farmers and private sector actors explore new marketing strategies. Growing quinoa and cañahua (a kind of millet), for example, allows farmers to complement their diet and sell a surplus in the market which in turn increases their income. Helvetas has been active in Bolivia since 1992.
Given the harsh conditions and dim prospects in the Andean highlands, more and more people are moving to the cities and regional centers. Increased urbanization poses new challenges to the Bolivian authorities. Helvetas supports regional and local authorities to improve waste management and sewage systems. This includes environmental education, such as teaching children at school about recycling.
The country’s rich natural resources (especially natural gas) and access to water have always been contentious issues in Bolivia, especially as not everyone reaps the benefits of these natural resources. In all our projects we seek to promote dialogue between political decision makers and interest groups. Helvetas advocates for the right of local communities to be informed and to have a say in decisions about the use of these resources and the revenues they generate.
Visit the website of Helvetas Bolivia.
If you would like to know more about our work in Bolivia, click on each project for details.