Bolivia

Bolivia Fact Sheet Feb 2005

Format
News and Press Release
Source
Posted
Originally published
CHF International Has:
- Distributed over $2,750,000 to benefit 13,500 illicit farmers in agricultural extension services.

- Invested $412,640 in 5 municipalities for the construction of 4 youth sport centers, 6 day care centers, 1 primary school, 12 expansions and to renovate to schools, installation of 196 solar panels for electrification, 3 health centers.

- Leveraged approximate $3,500,000 in counterpart from local and central government, private sector and community contributions.

- Financed $160,115 for community enhancement projects in the indigenous populations.

- Constructed 128 Km. of banana cableways, 2 pineapple packing plants and 10 banana packs.

- Invested $1,500,000 for the maintenance of 430 Km. of secondary roads.

Developing Alternatives to Violence in Bolivia

From the time of the Incas, coca has been a cultural staple in parts of Bolivia. Indigenous Bolivians chew the leaves to alleviate altitude sickness, to conserve body heat, and to stave off fatigue and hunger; it is also used for indigenous religious ceremonies. Still, global controversy over coca production and its use in producing cocaine have led to violent struggles between forces intent on eradication of illegal production and the coca growers' syndicates, which control local politics and cultivation. Caught in the middle are poor farmers who struggle to create a peaceful, secure and stable environment for their families, but who have few alternatives to coca production.

With assistance from USAID, CHF-Bolivia has undertaken an integrated development approach in Chapare, interconnecting communities that resist coca eradication with alternative development program efforts. Alongside aid for basic needs such as education, water sanitation and health, CHF provides resources to strengthen community collaboration, economic stimulation, increased social infrastructure and environmental protection.

In Chapare, CHF has selected the most marginalized communities that have traditionally rejected alternative development programs and in the past participated in the illegal production of coca. A recent agreement between the government and coca producers has provided temporary peace and stability, allowing CHF easier access to these communities.

CHF's focus is now to ensure stability within the region. Working with pockets of these populations who are tired of conflict and ready for change, CHF found that some of the strongest allies of the development programs are mothers who hope to build safer lives for their families -- presenting a critical receptive pool for community development programs. Women are the primary educators of children, peacemakers and leaders. Devel opment opportunities for these communities are designed in accordance with the Participatory Action for Community Enhancement (PACE) methodology -- an approach that encourages community participation, independent decision-making and conflict-resolution skills. PACE builds the capacity of local communities to mobilize resources to address self-determined priorities through participatory democratic practices. The results are tangible improvements in the living standards and community self-reliance. In various coca-producing communities within the Chapare, PACE programs are helping communities envision a life free of coca and conflict, through development of five-year strategic plans that embrace new economic opportunities, strengthen their citizen participation and leadership, and provide tangible improvements of local infrastructure and services.

CHF's goal is to transform local syndicates in Chapare from conflict-based organizations to leaders in their own peaceful democratic development processes. These efforts are progressively encouraging communities to embrace new opportunities and reduce coca production, paving the way for acceptance and viability of more peaceful livelihoods.