Technology and Engineering
  • ISSN: 2333-2581
  • Modern Environmental Science and Engineering

The New Water War: Effects of Poor Management and Mining on Water Provision in La Paz, Bolivia 

Patricia Alejandra Oviedo Cespedes

The New School of Public Engagement, Milano School of International Affairs, USA

Abstract: This paper examines the social and political repercussions of one of Bolivia’s worst water crisis in one of the main urban centers: the city of La Paz. The water crisis is used as a case study to analyze the factors that currently threaten water supply systems in the country. Data was collected through a revision of articles and reports. For recent information a series of semi-structured interviews with local experts working in this issue were performed during a 5-month period. The paper provides an overview on the historical background of water supply management at a national level, to display the political and regulatory trends that continue to affect people’s right to water. To explore the causes of the water crisis, the paper foregrounds the impact of extractive industries, low investments in infrastructure, and lack of institutional transparency on the accelerated rate of water resource depletion. To conclude the paper provides examples of alternative models of water management currently being explored by peri-urban communities in La Paz and Cochabamba. The models explored highlight the need for water sanitation and favor community-led water treatment systems as horizontal structures that can promote the protection and remediation of bodies of water in the country.

Key words: water resources, extractive industries, mining, climate change, institutional transparency, Bolivia

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