Operationalize Bolivia’s climate resilience through integrated watershed management in three Rio Grande sub-basins – Bolivia (Plurinational State of)


Bolivia improved its development of guidelines, planning instruments and interoperability protocols and successfully implemented a new integrated river basin management approach in three pilot sub-basins of the Rio Grande basin. Improved hydrometeorological forecasting, as well as flood management and irrigation infrastructure, now benefit more than 6,500 families across the basin, protecting them from droughts and floods.


In Bolivia, droughts and floods threaten the fight against poverty. Climate change, through effects such as the accelerated melting of glaciers, altered precipitation and increased drought, is increasing water scarcity in some river basins, affecting the availability of water for the consumption, agriculture, hydropower, mining, industries and ecosystems. The negative impact of these trends on the economy, ecosystem, livelihoods and human well-being is already being felt, especially among vulnerable groups such as the poor, women, children and individuals. elderly.


The Bolivia Climate Resilience – Integrated Basin Management Project, the first major World Bank-funded climate change project in Bolivia, aimed to put climate-smart integrated river basin management theory into practice.

The project focused on building institutional capacity and ensuring timely and reliable hydrometeorological data and forecasts by establishing a national climate and water information system and mainstreaming 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 new integrated river basin planning methodology was piloted in three sub-basins (Mizque, Rocha and Arque-Tapacarí) of the Rio Grande watershed. and included sub-projects designed and implemented to improve climate resilience in these sub-basins.


Between 2014 and 2020, the project supported the following key results:

  • A strategic climate resilience program has been adopted and operationalized. Pilots in three sub-basins demonstrated the usefulness and effectiveness of the underlying methodology and guidelines developed for the project, paving the way for adoption in other locations.

  • Fifty-five additional hydrometeorological data stations were funded and installed. Together with the data exchange and inter-agency coordination agreements, these have strengthened forecasting and modeling capacities for more precise sector planning.

  • The financing of 61 infrastructure and river basin management sub-projects in three pilot sub-basins has benefited more than 6,500 families. Specifically:

  • Nineteen sub-projects, covering 1,034.4 hectares, developed irrigation and drainage systems.

  • Twenty-five sub-projects, covering 988.45 hectares, protect areas from erosion.

  • Seventeen sub-projects equipped 17,313.16 meters of watercourses with flood protection infrastructure.

Contribution of the Bank Group

The World Bank, through the Climate Resilience Investment Fund (PPCR) Pilot Program, provided $ 45.5 million ($ 36 million in concessional loans and $ 9.5 million in concessional loans). donation form) to finance this project. The US $ 1.2 billion PPCR helps developing countries and regions strengthen their adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change. First, the PPCR helps governments integrate climate resilience into strategic development planning across sectors and stakeholder groups. Second, it provides concessional finance and grants to put these plans into action and drive innovative solutions from the public and private sectors.

The partners

A strong partnership exists between the main development partners in the water sector in Bolivia. Periodic meetings led by the Ministry of Water and the Environment made it possible to coordinate investments and analytical work. While the Inter-American Development Bank funded the implementation of a pilot project to improve the climate resilience of the city of La Paz-El Alto, the World Bank supported the implementation of three pilots in the Rio Basin Great as well as capacity building of principals and institutions at the subnational level. The World Bank coordinated related activities with the German Society for International Cooperation, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Swiss Cooperation Agency. In addition, the Japan International Cooperation Agency has contributed to activities related to water quality control in the Rocha sub-basin.


“The project built cement walls on both sides of the Cárcel Mayu river to protect communities and agricultural fields. For many years the region suffered from flooding. With these walls, we will be able to protect our properties, our homes and our farmers. “

– Cecilio Paniagua, Organización de la Gestión de Cuencas de la Comunidad Cárcel Mayu, Municipio de Capinota

Small rural villages in the upper areas of the watershed are considered to be among the most susceptible to the effects of future projected climate change scenarios. More intense rainfall, increased erosion and interrupted water availability will increase the costs and efforts required to maintain rare earths and their resources. To increase the resilience of communities, the project introduced micro-watershed management practices ranging from reforestation to small water storage systems. In urban areas of the basin, flood defenses and irrigation infrastructure have increased the resilience of families suffering from too much or too little water.

Moving forward

The adoption of the new integrated hydrographic basin methodology, with its mandatory national application, should be formalized by a ministerial resolution of the Ministry of Water and Environment. Several development partners, such as the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), have already applied the new methodology in their respective projects.

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