Bolivia, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, is home to approximately 10 million people. About two-thirds of this diverse country’s population is indigenous. Poverty is widespread in the rural countryside, especially among indigenous communities where the majority of people live on less than US $2 a day. Contributing to the high level of poverty is limited access to clean drinking water and sanitation. According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, 88% of people in Bolivia have access to improved water sources and 46% have improved sanitation facilities. However, in rural areas, access to safe drinking water is as low as 72% and sanitation coverage as low as 24%.

Water For People began working in Bolivia in 1997. Since then, we've developed a strategic program to address water and sanitation needs in four rural municipalities: Cuchumuela, Villa Rivero, Tiraque in the department of Cochabamba, and San Pedro in the department of Santa Cruz. In 2008, we were invited by the Bolivian government to start work in one peri-urban area—District 9, outside the city of Cochabamba. And in 2011, we expanded our program to the rural municipalities of Arani and San Benito, also located in the department of Cochabamba. Within each of these municipalities, Water For People–Bolivia works with the local government, communities, schools, and private and civil society organizations to reach full water and sanitation coverage.


Rural access to improved water:
Rural access to improved sanitation:
Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Per capita income:
Life expectancy (M/F):
Under-five mortality rate:
13/1,000 live births

Source: World Health Organization


The Everyone Forever program targets specific districts and municipalities that can act as a model for replication across the country. When Cuchumuela reached full household water coverage in 2012, it attracted the attention of national, state, and neighboring municipal governments which became interested replicating Everyone Forever in other districts. October 30th was been declared “Full Coverage Day” to close out National Water Month, and any subsequent district in the country that reaches full coverage in water or sanitation will be honored on this day. In 2013, Water For People signed an agreement with the Mancomunidad of Cono Sur (Association of Municipalities of the Southern Cone), an association of 12 municipalities in Cochabamba, to provide technical support for these districts to reach Everyone. An agreement was also signed with the Association of Municipalities for the Department of Cochabamba in 2014, which represents all 47 municipalities in the Department, to learn about the Everyone Forever approach.


Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when key players in the private sector, civil society, and local government are involved. In Bolivia, as in many places in Latin America, our most important local partners are the municipal governments of the districts where we work. Water For People–Bolivia also has strong relationships with the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Vice-Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the National Service for Sustainability of Sanitation Services (SENASBA), the Departmental government of Cochabamba, the Association of Municipalities of the Department of Cochabamba (AMDECO), the Mancomunidad of Cono Sur, and several Bolivian universities.

Moving Forward

Water For People-Bolivia will continue implementing Everyone Forever programming in seven districts, with water, sanitation, and hygiene programming planned in 40 communities and 24 schools and clinics in 2014. Building from the momentum of Cuchumuela reaching Everyone in 2012, other municipalities are eager to be the next to reach full water coverage. San Pedro is close. In 2014 the final community water systems will be completed. But the work is not done until every family has access to drinking water. This means collaborating with Municipal Departments of Basic Sanitation and community water committees to implement technical and social solutions to overcome the challenges that have kept some of the most remotely located and marginalized families from gaining access to water. Technically, this means extending community water systems to incorporate all possible users and creating small-scale solutions, such as rainwater catchment systems, for the most remote households. Socially, Water For People-Bolivia and DMSB staff will work with water committees to make sure connection fees and requirements are affordable and accessible, and work on community solidarity programs to ensure that marginalized groups such as people who are elderly, disabled, the poorest of the poor, and single women are included.

Water For People–Bolivia continues to build a national Everyone Forever movement. In 2014, an important step is the signing of an agreement with the Association of Municipalities of Cochabamba (AMDECO). Water For People-Bolivia will also begin to offer technical support to the municipalities that are part of the Mancomunidad of Cono Sur, including helping some of these municipalities to begin mapping water and sanitation coverage as a first step toward creating plans to reach full coverage.

View Current Progress

Innovate Initiatives for Permanent Solutions

Water For People–Bolivia continually tests new financing models and technical options for sanitation. In peri-urban Cochabamba, we are promoting access to micro-loans for toilets, and working with the Chamber of Commerce to strengthen sanitation micro-enterprises focused on sanitation construction, solid waste collection and processing from eco-san toilets, and sanitation promotion. We also encourage care for water resources by promoting low-flush or dry eco-san toilets. In rural municipalities, Water For People is investigating business models that will make sanitation accessible and desirable for rural consumers. In Tiraque, Water For People–Bolivia has worked with the municipality to establish a revolving loan at the community level for toilets. In Cuchumuela, compost from toilets is used to grow specialty mushrooms, and the Cuchumualea Mushroom Producers Association has been created to improve processing and marketing. Since 2012, Water For People has facilitated an annual national low-cost toilet design competition to increase the availability of desirable and affordable sanitation technology options.

Due to District 9’s distance from the city center and limited access to the city’s water supply, Water For People–Bolivia is working with partners and communities to implement water systems whereby local water tanks are regularly serviced by water trucks. Distribution networks from the tanks then supply water to household taps within a community. The distribution systems are managed by water committees.

Before Water For People–Bolivia began working on these systems households purchased water by the barrel from the water trucks. Not only has the bulk sale of water to the water committees reduced the cost of water for households significantly, but it also has improved water quality as households no longer store water in easily contaminated barrels outside their homes. In addition, we've worked with the Ministry of Health to certify water trucks, verifying that the tankers are in good condition and that the water they are selling is collected from a protected source. In schools, Water For People–Bolivia is promoting low-cost rainwater catchment tanks made with plastic PET bottles, in addition to health and hygiene education. Our health and hygiene education materials have been adopted by schools and sections incorporated into the national curriculum.

Water For People–Bolivia has been steadily building the capacity of the municipalities so that they will be able to sustain water and sanitation services Forever. With our support, each rural municipality where we work has established a Municipal Department of Basic Sanitation (DMSB) within the government to support communities with water system operation and maintenance, oversee water and sanitation projects, and provide health and hygiene education. The DMSBs are comprised of several professional staff, including engineers and social workers, to permanently support technical and social aspects of service provision within the municipality. The national government of Bolivia, through the National Service for Sustainability of Sanitation Services (SENASBA), is investigating the possibility of replicating DMSBs nationally.

Recently, the Department of Cochabamba (1.9 million people), consisting of 47 municipalities, have committed in the following Memorandum of Understanding, to learn about and implement the Everyone Forever approach so that this Department can eradicate water and sanitation poverty forever.

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