Jan 17, 2014 BO Bolivia
By Kate Bennett
Microfinance and Watsan: Seeking Sustainable Solutions in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Mentioning “water” and “Bolivia” in the same sentence can be contentious. In 2000, one of Bolivia’s largest cities, Cochabamba, was engulfed in protests against the privatization of the city’s water supply to foreign investors, most notably Bechtel Corp. In the aftermath of what was known as the “Cochabamba Water Wars,” clean water supply in the city and surrounding areas remained inadequate.  To this day, many families lack a connection to clean water supply entirely. Those who do have access to water have shaky and unreliable service for a scant number of hours each day. 
 
The same communities that face a lack of access to water and sanitation are the ones that also lack the access to financial services to help them meet their needs. 
 
And that’s where Kiva field partner CIDRE comes in. CIDRE focuses on promoting sustainable development in underserved rural areas of central Bolivia through improvements in public policy, environmental protection, and technological innovation. Working in the Cochabamba region for over 20 years, CIDRE and its loan officers work with communities to identify and understand water and sanitation challenges and develop sustainable and cost-effective solutions.
 
Three representatives of the Cochabamba Loan Board standing at the site of the new well

Three representatives of the Cochabamba Loan Board standing at the site of the new well

 
CIDRE works with community-elected representatives to provide water loans that meet specific needs in their communities. The loans cover two main costs: digging the wells that provide water to a community of people in an identified region, and building new water connections for households so families have access to their new, clean water.
 
CIDRE is serving communities like Puntiti, only 6.5 kilometers from Cochabamba but facing severe water scarcity due to sedimentation and drying up of their existing water source. The community has grown to 250 families, putting increased pressure on a dwindling supply. CIDRE and the Asociacion De Agua Oriental/Eden group, Puntiti’s board of elected representatives, hope to use Kiva funding to finance the drilling of a well in Puntiti, ensuring clean water supply for years to come.
 
By marrying microfinance tools with the water and sanitation sector, CIDRE and Kiva are working to connect communities like Puntiti with sustainable sources of capital so they can build sustainable water solutions.
 
To learn more about CIDRE and its clean water projects, check out their partner page and currently fundraising loans!
 

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Prior to working with Kiva, Kate lived in Quito, Ecuador working in environmental management as a consultant for USAID implementing partners in the global south. After earning her B.A. in Political Economy, Postcolonial History, and Development from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in January 2010, she pursued a practice-based understanding of effective tools in development through work with New York based social change organizations and grassroots nonprofit organizations in Guatemala. Kate worked previously with Kiva as a Kiva Fellow in Ecuador and Peru, which fomented her commitment to microfinance as a tool for poverty alleviation.

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