Building Resilient Communities and Supporting Market Participation in the Bolivian Highlands
Written by Andrea Johnson, Green Empowerment Executive DirectorGreen Empowerment has worked in Bolivia since 2016 with partner, Practical Action. The majority of our projects, including our first project along Lake Titicaca, focus on renewable energy systems for productive end uses with indigenous communities. Bolivia is consistently ranked as the second or third poorest country in the western hemisphere and our expansion was a very natural transition after years of successful partnership with Practical Action in Peru.During a recent project tour with Green Empowerment board members and supporters, we visited seven communities in three very distinct areas: Lake Titicaca, the Bolivian Amazon, and Santiago de Machaca – the llama and alpaca capital of Bolivia.Our visit to Santiago de Machaca was particularly striking. Communities depend on llamas and alpacas (camelids) as their main food source and to generate income. Over the years, communities and their camelids have increasingly suffered from extreme drought and harsh winter conditions. As we bounced along a remote muddy road to Berenguela, the first community that we visited on our tour, little balls of hail dotted the harsh, high altitude landscape. In Berenguela, infant camelids had a 50% mortality rate before the project. In just a year, the rate decreased by 25%. In addition to providing water to camelids during drought, the project provided water to the community and school, and integrated improved husbandry and fodder production by collaborating with agricultural extensionists in the area. This was our first time using solar water-pumping technology in the Bolivian highlands and it was an amazing success.We hope to expand this project by integrating improved llama meat processing so that rural communities can do value-added processing and get a better price for their product by participating in the local market. We also hope to replicate our efforts in six new communities with our local partner, Practical Action, and the municipality.
If you are interested in supporting our continued work in this region, please let us know. We are currently seeking funding to expand our efforts.