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.