In Bolivia, droughts and floods jeopardize the fight against poverty. Climate change—through effects including accelerated glacier melt, changing precipitation patterns, and increased drought—increases water scarcity in some river basins, affecting water availability for drinking, agriculture, hydropower, mining, industries, and ecosystems. The negative impact of these trends on the economy, the ecosystem, and human livelihoods and well-being is already being felt, particularly among vulnerable groups such as the poor, women, children, and the elderly.
The Bolivia Climate Resilience - Integrated Basin Management Project, the first large climate change project in Bolivia financed by the World Bank, aimed to turn climate-smart, integrated river basin management theory into practice.
The project focused on strengthening institutional capacity and ensuring timely and reliable hydrometeorological data and forecasts by establishing a National Climate and Water Information System and by integrating climate change adaptation into planning and investment tools. The development of a National Drought Monitor was added to the project after severe droughts hit the country in 2016. The newly developed integrated river basin planning methodology was piloted in three subbasins (Mizque, Rocha, and Arque-Tapacarí) of the Rio Grande river basin and included subprojects designed and implemented to enhance climate resilience in those subbasins.
Between 2014 and 2020, the project supported the following key results:
- A climate resilience strategic program was adopted and operationalized that included developing actionable guidelines, planning instruments, and protocols for relevant government agencies to integrate climate change adaptation into their work. Pilots in three subbasins demonstrated the usefulness and effectiveness of the underlying methodology and guidelines developed for the project, smoothing the way for adoption in other locations.
- Fifty-five additional hydrometeorological data stations were financed and installed. Together with inter-agency data exchange and coordination agreements, these have strengthened forecasting and modelling capabilities for more accurate sector planning.
- Financing for 61infrastructure and river basin management subprojects in three pilot subbasins has benefited more than 6,500 families. Specifically:
- Nineteen subprojects, covering 1,034.4 hectares, developed irrigation and drainage systems.
- Twenty-five subprojects, covering 988.45 hectares, protect areas from erosion.
- Seventeen subprojects equipped 17,313.16 meters of waterways with flood protection infrastructure.
Construction of riverbank protection against flooding in the Cárcel Mayu community. Copyright: Servicio de Cuencas (SDC), Cochabamba.