BOLIVIA-WB: New Strategic Partnership Will Benefit 3 Million Bolivians in Rural and Peri-Urban Areas

December 1, 2011

Improvements in Road Infrastructure, Access to Health, Water and Sanitation Services, Agricultural Technology

LA PAZ, December 1, 2011 – The World Bank (WB) Board of Directors approved a new Strategic Partnership with Bolivia today, which, seeking clear results, will guide the elaboration of programs and investment projects until the year 2015 while benefiting around 3 million people directly and indirectly, most of them from the poorest sectors of society.

The partnership will help at least one million agricultural producers increase their income and leave extreme poverty behind. Furthermore, it is estimated that two million inhabitants of El Alto, La Paz and rural areas will benefit from improved road infrastructure on the San Buenaventura-Ixiamas stretch in the northern Amazon sector of La Paz department, and enhanced roads in Oruro, Cochabamba, La Paz, Tarija and Santa Cruz departments.

The strategy also seeks to contribute to human development with maternal and child health care and water and sanitation infrastructure for almost one million people. Moreover, it will back the State’s decentralization and autonomy agenda, as well as the National Planning System.

According to Bolivia’s Development Planning Minister, Viviana Caro, “the Strategy’s results-based implementation approach will allow it to monitor project execution and measure its impact on the country’s development objectives”.

“This is a very important step in the relationship between the country and the World Bank, in terms of appropriating the goals of the Plurinational State’s Development Plan, and Bank coordination with Bolivia’s contributory community”,  Caro said.

Indeed, the Strategy was designed according to the objectives set out in the Plurinational State of Bolivia’s National Development Plan (PND, in Spanish), which prioritizes the transformation of agriculture to reduce rural poverty, improve infrastructure to foster growth, increase basic services for hundreds of thousands of underserved households, as well as those without health and educational coverage, while boosting economic growth via public investment.

“This new partnership strategy will contribute to consolidating the work carried out by the Government of Bolivia for the last five years, thus supporting the development process on the basis of achieving concrete results in the fight to eradicate poverty in the country,” said Susan Goldmark, World Bank Director for Bolivia, Chile, Peru and Venezuela.

Although Bolivia’s extreme poverty rate dropped substantially between 2005 and 2008, and income inequality has also shown a downward trend, the social agenda continues to be a priority for the national development strategy.

The Strategy was designed with the following principles: selectivity in those areas where the World Bank possesses certain advantages vis-à-vis other international development institutions and coordination with other development partners to achieve better results from the synergy generated with other cooperation-agency-supported programs. Equally, the Strategy incorporates issues such as gender equality, governance and anti-corruption.

The elaboration of this Strategy benefited from a series of joint consultations with civil society representatives, including indigenous and farmer organizations, the private sector, production and NGOs, municipal councils, departmental assemblies, women’s organizations, youth groups and key international cooperation agencies acting in Bolivia. The exchange of ideas with these players helped validate the World Bank’s efforts, strengthening the focus on gender in particular. Regarding these consultations, Goldmark indicated that “they represent significant proposals from civil society, aligned with those areas where the World Bank provides technical and financial assistance, thus enhancing the Strategy’s final design.”

The Partnership Strategy proposes a program of financial and knowledge operations in four priority areas:

  • Sustainable Product Development
    This pillar focuses on supporting agricultural transformation initiatives to reduce rural poverty. Promoting the sustainability of small-scale producers will be achieved through better market access, the provision of advanced production technology, improved infrastructure and the promotion of agricultural productivity through innovation.
  • Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management
    The World Bank supports disaster risk management and climate change adaptation with grants, concessional credits and technical assistance. These activities fall under the framework of existing plans to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on agriculture, water and health, among others, as well as contingency plans for events such as droughts, floods and fires.
  • Human Development and Access to Basic Services
    The new strategy envisions a great effort to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable with programs that promote human capital. In particular, it will back the efforts of national institutions to reduce infant and maternal mortality, chronic malnutrition, increase school enrollment and reduce dropout rates by extending education and health services, as well as the provision of water, electricity and basic sanitation.
  • Supporting Public Sector Efficiency
    As a result of a new and complex regional context with greater requirements for timely and trustworthy statistical information for policy-making within a decentralized and results-based framework, the World Bank will support the execution of two National Censuses in 2012, one of population and households, the other agricultural, as well as improvements to the Continuous Household Survey.

Note to editors:
Bolivia currently has a diversified, 13 investment-project program totaling US$445 million, together with nine grants and a series of analytical and technical assistance activities. The new strategy involves a sum of US$530 million, including the current project portfolio with US$353 million yet to be disbursed, plus fresh resources worth at least US$177 million. Out of this total, close to 60% (US$ 308 million) are geared toward rural development.

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