Bolivia, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, is home to approximately 10.7 million people. Known officially as the “Plurinational State of Bolivia,” Bolivians are proud of their indigenous heritage and cultures. Bolivia’s 2009 constitution designates Spanish and all indigenous languages as official; 36 languages are specified. Quechua and Aymara are the most widely spoken languages in the country after Spanish.

Despite many challenges that persist, Bolivia has made significant progress on increasing access to drinking water coverage and met the Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to improved drinking water by 2015. In line with the global trend, progress on sanitation lags behind progress on drinking water.

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, is a champion of access to water and sanitation as a human right, and successfully advocated at the United Nations for these to be declared human rights in 2010.

President Morales has set ambitious goals for Bolivia to reach universal access to drinking water by 2020 and sanitation by 2025. In the context of newly adopted Sustainable Development Goal 6, which includes by 2030 to “achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all” and “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations” Bolivia is ahead of the curve and we believe it will be an important model for other nations to follow.


Rural access to improved water
Rural access to improved sanitation
Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Per capita income:
Life expectancy (M/F):
Under-five mortality rate:
38/1,000 live births
Bolivia 1

Our Work

History of Program

Water For People began working in Bolivia in 1997. In 2007, Water For People created a new strategic plan that focused efforts in four rural municipalities: Cuchumuela, Villa Rivero, and 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 District 9 of the peri-urban area at the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba. And in 2011, Water For People-Bolivia expanded its 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 has worked local government, communities, schools, and private and civil society organizations to increase levels of water and sanitation service.

Everyone Forever

Everyone Forever is a unique programmatic effort to provide water and sanitation to Everyone in targeted districts and municipalities Forever. It means these districts and communities never need an international water agency to address their water challenges again. It also provides a model for greater replication leading to a push for national full water and sanitation coverage.

In collaboration with local partners, most importantly municipal governments, Water For People-Bolivia has achieved great success in increasing the levels of water and sanitation services in the seven districts where we work to move toward Everyone. In 2012, Cuchumuela became the first rural municipality in Bolivia to reach full household water coverage. In 2015, San Pedro reached full household water coverage and the rest of the districts where we work are getting close!

Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when local role-players—the private sector, civil society, and local government—are strengthened and supported. In Bolivia, as in many countries in Latin America, our most important local partners are the 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 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 Association of Municipalities of the Southern Cone, and several Bolivian universities.

Bolivia 2

Everyone Forever Regions

In the department of Cochabamba:

Cuchumuela: Small rural district located 42 miles southeast of the city of Cochabamba at an elevation of 12,139 feet. Population of approximately 2,035 in 14 communities.

Villa Rivero: A rural municipality located 36 miles southeast of Cochabamba with a population of approximately 16,700 in 42 communities.

Tiraque: 1,450 square-mile, primarily rural municipality with elevations ranging as high as 17,000 feet. Total population of the municipality is approximately 44,990 within 142 communities.

Arani: A rural municipality located 40 miles from the city of Cochabamba that covers an area of 195 square miles, with elevations ranging from 9,400 to 12,000 feet. Population is approximately 20,345 in 62 communities.

San Benito: San Benito covers 93 square miles and is 22 miles from the city of Cochabamba. There are two ecological zones—the valley and highlands—that range from 9,000 to 13,000 feet in elevation. Approximately 21,010 inhabitants in 39 communities.

Peri-Urban Cochabamba, District 9: The largest and least developed of the six peri-urban districts on the outskirts of the city of Cochabamba. A rapidly growing population of 16,170. Located on the southern edge of Cochabamba.

In the department of Santa Cruz:

San Pedro: Rural district home to 16,710 inhabitants in 19 communities.

View Progress
Bolivia 3


Cuchumuela reaching full household water coverage in 2012 has attracted the attention of national, state, and neighboring municipal governments who are interested replicating Everyone Forever in other districts. To celebrate Cuchumuela reaching full coverage, October 30th has been declared “Full Coverage Day” to close out National Water Month. In 2013, Water For People signed an agreement with the Mancomunidad of Cono Sur, an association of 12 municipalities in Cochabamba, to provide technical support for these districts to reach Everyone. In 2014, an agreement was also signed with the Association of Municipalities for the Department of Cochabamba, which represents all 47 municipalities in the Department, for them to learn about the Everyone Forever approach.

In 2015 Water For People to an important step by hiring former Country Director, Dr. Betty Soto, to advise the Ministry of Water and Environment to support implementation of the governments’ Mas Agua Para Todos Por Siempre program, with the aim of operationalizing President Morales’s vision of reaching full national water coverage by 2020 and sanitation coverage by 2025. Efforts are currently focused on Oruro, Pando, and Tarija, three departments prioritized by the President to be the first to reach Everyone.

Bolivia 4

Permanent Solutions Require Innovative Initiatives

Municipal Capacity Building

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 Water For People–Bolivia’s support, each rural municipality where we work has established a Municipal Department of Basic Sanitation (DMSB) within the municipal 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.


Water For People-Bolivia promotes a market-based approach to sanitation, where families invest in their household toilets to ensure that toilets are appropriately-designed to meet the family’s preferences and needs and get used for their intended purpose (rather than as storage sheds!). In peri-urban Cochabamba, Water For People-Bolivia has supported several small-scale sanitation businesses that construct flush toilets and eco-san latrines, empty eco-san latrines and provide composting services, and facilitate credit for sanitation. Though demand for sanitation in rural areas of Bolivia has historically been low, a social marketing campaign led by the Municipal Department of Basic Sanitation of Villa Rivero has yielded promising results in 2015. In this program 244 families have been motivated to construct household bathrooms though incentives worth about 20% of the total construction cost provided by the municipal government, benefitting 1220 people.

Current Programming

In 2016, Water For People-Bolivia plans to work with municipal partners and communities reach Everyone in two additional districts: Villa Rivero and San Benito. Water For People-Bolivia will also continue to push toward reaching Everyone in Arani and Tiraque, which are projected to reach Everyone in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

On sanitation, Water For People-Bolivia will begin to implement a new Sustainable Sanitation strategy created in 2015. Part of this strategy will include building on a successful social marketing campaign led by the municipal government of Villa Rivero mentioned above.

In 2016, Water For People-Bolivia’s role in peri-urban Cochabamba will change, due to significant advances of a massive government project that will extend drinking water and sewer services to the entire metropolitan area of Cochabamba, including District 9 where since 2008 Water For People has made significant contributions to expanding services in 19 “barrios” by supporting construction of storage tanks and distribution networks, which are supplied by cistern trucks. Water For People has confirmed progress made on massive hydraulic works, including a large dam and reservoir, which will allow the city water utility, SEMAPA, to supply currently unserved areas of the city. Therefore Water For People has decided to end infrastructure investment in peri-urban Cochabamba, and focus 2016 efforts on strengthening the existing water and sanitation committees (which will potentially continue to operate, depending upon negotiations with SEMAPA), and organizing a Federation of water committees to coordinate with SEMAPA. At the end of the fiscal year 2016, Water For People-Bolivia will re-evaluate the need for its continued support in peri-urban Cochabamba.

Our numbers are based off the following data:

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