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Regional Integration


Paving a Way Out of Poverty in Bolivia

About 40 percent of Bolivia’s estimated population of 9.2 million people lives in extreme poverty. The country’s geographic constraints were linked to its economic ones—Bolivia is landlocked and mountainous, with long distances between cities. Given its proximity to neighbors Argentina and Paraguay, eastern Bolivia had a high potential for agricultural trade—but suffered from an underdeveloped road system, limiting the ability of farmers to get their products to market.

© Szymon Kochanski Access roads twist through the Andes.
© Szymon KochanskiGoods and stray llamas criss-cross new all-weather roads. Photos: Symon Kochanski

The Approach

Connecting Neighbors

By the late 1990s, the poor conditions of the 150 km Abapó-Camiri section of the main highway, which connected eastern Bolivia with its southern neighbors, was holding back economic development. The project was a huge undertaking, since the reconstruction and paving was extremely complex and large in scale. It involved bypasses of a major bridge and towns, and the highway transited several small indigenous communities.

The Impact

IDA’s Results
  • Provided funding for the project, which cost US$524,000 per km.
  • Decreased road-user costs by half and more than doubled vehicle traffic along the road. These cost-savings increased trade not only within the region, but also with markets in neighboring Argentina and Paraguay.
  • Benefited an estimated 1.3 million people who use the Abapó-Camiri Highway, including the bridge over the Rio Grande, the Camiri Bypass, and the access road to El Espino.

By the Numbers

  • 600 vehicles traveling per day on the Abapó-Ipati section in 2005, compared to 230 vehicles in 1999.
  • 240% increase in average travel speeds over the same period, from 33 to 80 km/hr for cars.
  • $0.33 savings in cost to users per vehicle per km, from $0.55 before the project to $0.22 after.
  • 15-41% economic rates of return on all sections of the highway.
© Szymon Kochanski

Learn More About This Project

More About IDA@Work In BOLIVIA

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