Please turn your phone to a portrait position...



Bolivia, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, is home to a diverse indigenous population. Poverty is widespread in the rural countryside, especially among indigenous communities where the majority of people live on less than $2 USD 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 71% and sanitation coverage is as low as 10%.

Water For People began working in Bolivia in 1997. Since then, Water For People–Bolivia has 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, Water For People–Bolivia was invited by the Bolivian government to start work in one peri-urban area, District 9, outside the city of Cochabamba. And in 2011, Water For People–Bolivia expanded its program farther 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 local government, communities, schools, and private and civil society organizations to reach high levels of 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


Water For People–Bolivia is focusing its programming in Cuchumuela, Tiraque, Villa Rivero, San Pedro, Arani, San Benito, and District 9 in peri-urban Cochabamba. Last year, an important milestone was reached when full household water coverage was achieved in Cuchumuela. Water For People–Bolivia continues to work in Cuchumuela to support reaching full sanitation coverage and to build the institutional capacity and long-term financial planning knowledge that will be necessary to maintain full water coverage permanently.


Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when key players—the private sector, civil society, and local government—are strengthened and supported. In Bolivia, as in many places in Latin America, local partners are the municipal governments of the districts where we work. Water For People–Bolivia also has strong relationships with the Department of Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation, Ministry of Environment and Water, National Support Service for Basic Sanitation Services Sustainability, the government of the Department of Cochabamba, several Bolivian universities, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private-sector companies.

Current Work

Water For People–Bolivia continues to build upon the momentum generated by Cuchumuela reaching full household water coverage in 2012. This achievement has attracted the attention of national, state, and neighboring municipal governments who are interested in using the methodology by which Cuchumuela achieved full water coverage as a guide for other municipalities. Among the lessons learned from the Cuchumuela experience is the definition of water coverage not just as community-level access but also as household access. Sanitation programming this year will focus on increasing coverage and continuing to explore innovative and sustainable approaches to sanitation for rural and peri-urban areas.

View Current Progress


Water For People–Bolivia continually tests new financing models and technical options for sanitation. In peri-urban Cochabamba, Water For People–Bolivia is creating access to microloans for toilets, working with the Chamber of Commerce to strengthen sanitation microenterprises, and working with these microenterprises to promote families building their own toilets or building with the assistance of a sanitation microenterprise.

Water For People–Bolivia is promoting water conservation through the use of meters on all water systems it establishes or rehabilitates.

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. Water For People–Bolivia’s 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 supply and sanitation facilities once Water For People–Bolivia is no longer working directly in those districts. In 2007, with Water For People–Bolivia’s support, each municipality established a Municipal Basic Sanitation Unit (DMSB) to assist communities with water system operation and maintenance, oversee water and sanitation-related projects, support local NGOs in the field, understand community needs, and provide health and hygiene education.

Water For People–Bolivia is also promoting water conservation through the use of meters on all water systems it establishes or rehabilitates. This allows water committees and community members to monitor water usage and establish an affordable, usage-based fee structure to maintain the system.

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.

Read More (PDF)