Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools in the Chaco-Chuquisaqueño, Bolivia
December 2011 - June 2015
Approximately 2.3 million inhabitants of Bolivia do not have access to water services; 57% of those are in rural areas. 5 million inhabitants of Bolivia do not have sufficient access to sanitation services; 43% of those are in rural areas. 80% of the rural population live in communities of less than 500 people, known as dispersed rural population. Over the last years the country has suffered the effects of climate change, with serious floods in some areas, caused by the El Niño phenomenon, together with intense and long droughts in others.
Improve stability, reduce the high levels of malnutrition and high rates of child morbidity in Guaraní dispersed rural communities (rural communities with less than 2,000 inhabitants) and schools. In particular, this means communities affected by the drought and without access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Bolivia is going through an intense period of change. In addition to the social changes of the last three decades, the recent years have seen a highly symbolic change in the political dispensation, starting in 2006 with the election of Evo Morales as the first indigenous president of the country. Over the last years, Bolivia has made significant social advances which have enabled the country as a whole to achieve a medium level of human development. Between 2000 and 2008, relative poverty levels, both extreme and moderate, decreased by 12.5 and 7.1 percentage points respectively. This decrease was mainly due to a reduction in rural poverty, especially extreme poverty, which decreased from almost eight out of every ten poor people in 2000 to five in 2008.
With regard to water and sanitation, the country saw the Guerra del Agua (War of Water), a series of protests that took place in Cochabamba, between January and April 2000 against the privatisation of municipal water services. This was one of the catalysts of the current change process. From 2001, policies for change have come about, with wide participation from farming and indigenous organizations and users of drinking water systems.
The aim is to empower communities: families, boys, girls, teachers in schools and those responsible for health centres, in order for them to adopt better hygiene practices and proper use of water and sanitation services. This, together with developing capabilities at a local level, is to make projects self-manageable and sustainable.
The strategy to achieve the aforementioned goals includes the implementation of a number of activities at various levels: departmental, municipal and community/school level. Some of the activities are:
- Developing community and school initiatives to promote hygiene habits.
- Drilling wells.
- Providing technical assistance to municipal governments.
- Strengthening local structures in order for services to be managed by the community.
- Creating school committees that are responsible for operating and maintaining services
- Supplying eco-toilets to schools.