Project information

Fighting food and water insecurity in Bolivia

Bolivia is South America’s poorest country. Hunger haunts poor rural communities, with the situation worsening as climatic fluctuations become more severe. This project will combine ancestral and scientific knowledge about water, farming and weather to ensure ecologically sustainable food security.

March 2012 - February 2013

Charity information: HelpAge International

HelpAge International
  • Need


    Food insecurity and malnutrition are rife in poor areas in rural Bolivia, with recent food price rises, irregular rainfall and increased intensity of natural disasters making the situation even more critical. Indigenous peoples in rural areas are being particularly badly affected. Malnutrition costs lives and is also making people more vulnerable to developing disabilities and chronic ill health – making it even harder for them to escape the poverty trap.


    Local older people will help identify suitable locations for food growing gardens where crops have a degree of protection from excessive heat, drying winds etc. Equipment for water collection and storage and training on water-efficient irrigation will be provided. Tools and seeds for nutritious Bolivian crops will be distributed. Awareness will be raised on good nutrition and hygiene. Local authorities and media will be invited to learn lessons to help prevent hunger in the wider area.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Ecologically sustainable water resource management


    » Interviews and workshops with older people to recover and validate useful traditional knowledge and practices related to water resource management
    » Construction of water tanks and small-scale irrigation systems, and defining roles and structures for their management, maintenance and repair
    » Establishing common understanding on the best use of water resources, taking planning for weather conditions and climate changes into account

    What success will look like

    Success will be access to water for irrigating crops leading to 40% increase in food production in targeted households

    Aim 2

    Improved food security for poor older people and their families


    » Recover and validate useful traditional eco-friendly agricultural practices
    » Provision of seeds for nutritious Bolivian food crops and tools for targeted households
    » Creation of new agricultural calendars and guidelines for sustainable food growing, taking into account the main risks facing communities

    What success will look like

    Success will be older people and their families in targeted households regularly eating 3 meals a day and able to sell surplus to boost their income

    Aim 3

    Greater understanding of water and food security and respect for value of ancestral knowledge


    » Disseminate information on food and water security, including ancestral knowledge, among project participants, schools and wider community
    » Use local media to disseminate good practices based on useful ancestral knowledge such as bio-indicators for early warning of droughts and floods
    » Review lessons learned and present project results to local authorities for use to help improve food and water security more widely

    What success will look like

    Success will be incorporation of lessons learned from project and useful ancestral knowledge, in local authority plans on food security and water management

    Aim 4

    Improved practice regarding healthy diets, safe drinking water and parasite control


    » Participatory construction of appropriate diet, worming and safe water guidelines based on resources available in the communities
    » Dissemination of appropriate practices on which consensus has been reached

    What success will look like

    Success will be reduced rates of malnutrition at community level

  • Impact


    The water tanks and irrigation systems will continue to be available beyond the project period and so have a long term impact on food security in the targeted households. The tools will last beyond the project period and beneficiaries will be trained on seed collection, enabling further planting in future years. Improved community knowledge on water and food security, nutrition and hygiene - and particularly inclusion of this knowledge in local authority plans - will have lasting benefits


    A risk analysis has been carried out and lists several risks and ways to address them. These include:

    Extreme climatic events. The project includes disaster risk reduction work as the project focus includes making food growing in rural areas more resilient to climate change.

    Damage to water tanks or pipes or agricultural tools. Local people will be trained in the maintenance and repair of water storage and irrigation equipment and tools.


    HelpAge has an established monitoring and evaluation system in Bolivia, supported by a set of impact-oriented indicators. Donors who do not make their donations anonymous will receive emailed project updates over the course of the project so they can see how their support is having an impact

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £92,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £32,000 Water management equipment Water tanks, pumps, pipes and insulation
      £9,000 Water resource training Training for community members on constructing, maintaining and repairing water management equipment
      £6,000 Ancestral knowledge collection Workshops with older people to map traditional knowledge relevant to food and water security
      £7,000 Seeds, tools and fertilizers Supplying seeds, tools and fertilizers for sowing vegentable gardens
      £11,000 Agriculture & nutritrion trng. Training in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and hygiene
      £7,000 Project logistics & transport Transportation of equipment and project staff
      £11,000 Advocacy work Community education and work with local authorities to influence food and water security policy
      £9,000 Project support costs Project management, coordination and overheads
  • Background


    Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. The four targeted rural municipalities – Tarabuco and Yamparaez in the South and Santa Ana and Trinidad in the North have been chosen as areas facing particularly acute food security and water resource management issues. Young adults in these primarily indigenous agricultural communities are increasingly migrating to the cities, leaving older people and children behind.


    1,000 people stand to benefit directly from this project –200 older people and 800 other family members. The project will focus on reaching the most vulnerable. In addition, an estimated 35,000 people classified as poor in the targeted municipalities stand to benefit from the advocacy work. This will involve educating decision makers and the wider community about water-efficient irrigation, sustainable farming, nutrition and hygiene - with the aim of bringing about long term behavior change.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    HelpAge International is a unique organisation standing up for the rights of older people worldwide and the contribution they can make to overcoming development challenges. Founded in 1983, HelpAge has been working in Bolivia since 1991. Our work in Bolivia has focused on building and strengthening older people’s organisations to participate in local and national planning and sustainable courses of action with lasting impact.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Rolando Jitton

    Rolando is the Director of HelpAge Bolivia who will coordinate work in the 4 targeted municipalities, ensuring the objectives are delivered.