Bolivia remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, despite having the highest growth on the continent. Climate change is also a daily challenge. Since 2015, AFD has been supporting the country in two priority sectors: water and energy.
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AFD's action in Bolivia
AFD and Bolivia: Addressing the challenge of climate change and reducing inequalities
City of Potosi, Bolivia

Improving access to electricity

Bolivia Electric cables

Improving access to electricity

The national interconnected system (NIS) covers 90% of Bolivia’s demand, but only 67% of needs in rural areas. Some 400,000 households are not connected to the national grid. 230,000 of them are connected to diesel mini-grids. This type of production is disadvantageous for populations: the electricity is more expensive and is sometimes only supplied for a few hours a day. The system is also harmful to the environment: there is an extremely high level of greenhouse gas emissions. 

The Bolivian Government aims to achieve universal access to electricity by 2025. To this end, it is focusing on hybrid generation systems and the installation of small-scale solar and hydro power plants in poorly served regions. Biomass power generation projects will also be implemented.

To help Bolivia achieve this objective, we are planning to finance upgrading projects for the national power transmission and distribution grid.

Developing renewable energies

solar plant, Oruro, Bolivia, AFD

Developing renewable energies

Gas-fired thermal generation today accounts for some 70% of Bolivia’s energy mix. Hydropower only accounts for 29% of the total. The other renewable energies (biomass and wind) do not even account for 1% of production, meaning there is huge untapped potential!

The Government has decided to focus on a secure and sustainable electricity supply, with a low cost for the population. The expansion plan for the sector is even targeting 70% of generation with renewable energies. 
Several projects are being conducted to develop hydropower generation, but also solar, wind and geothermal energy. The country’s experience of renewable energies is very recent and it needs to be supported and strengthened. This is the purpose of

AFD’s support for: 

  • The construction of one of the first photovoltaic solar power plants, in Oruro Department;
  • The construction of two wind farms in the Santa Cruz and Tarija Departments, which will eventually reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 110,000 tons of CO₂;
  • A technical assistance program, with European Union financing, to improve governance and build national expertise in the sector.

Scaling up access to drinking water and sanitation

A mother and her child filling up on water at the tap. Alto, Bolivia

Scaling up access to drinking water and sanitation

In Bolivia, the rate of access to improved sanitation services is below 50%. Due to a lack of resources, the performance of drinking water distribution and sanitation services continues to be poor. Water quality is a real problem, both for the population and the environment. 

It is in this already difficult context that the country was hit by a severe drought in 2016.  It caused major water shortages in the main cities of the Altiplano and the valley. The Government had to declare a state of emergency and ration distribution. 

AFD has set out to help the Bolivian Government get out of this crisis, with:

  • Support for public policies in the water sector to strengthen the sectoral framework over the long term, beyond the short-term improvement in the country’s situation. 
  • The construction of wastewater treatment plants and associated networks in Cochabamba, to depollute the Rio Rocha. Various technologies will be tested so that the treated wastewater can be reused for agricultural irrigation.
  • The construction of a potable water adduction and associated networks in Cochabamba and the strengthening of the operators' capacities.

These initiatives have one objective: universal access to drinking water and sanitation by 2025. 

Supporting local initiatives

A field in Bolivia agriculture

Supporting local initiatives

For the past two years, AFD has been supporting several projects to improve people’s daily lives: 

  • To promote family farm production with the Bolivian NGO CIPCA

In 2015, we cofinanced a project of the NGO CIPCA. Actions to promote agroecology and the family economy are organized with the residents of six regions in the country. 6,436 rural and indigenous families, from 30 local authorities, have adopted techniques adapted to the territories and taking account of climate change. 

  • To improve living conditions for women in La Paz prison

In June 2016, AFD donated medical equipment to the women’s prison in the Obrajes quarter in La Paz. The objective: improve gynecological monitoring and diabetes monitoring for women prisoners, and thereby make up for the lack of human and financial resources of Bolivian prisons in order to improve living conditions for women in detention.

  • To innovate with a Hackathon on the theme of environmental protection

In November 2016, we made a financial contribution to the 2nd edition of the “Madre Tierra” Hackathon. This program was launched by the Government and implements creative solutions, particularly digital solutions, to raise the awareness of the population in terms of environmental issues.


years of partnership
million euros committed in 2016-2018
tons of CO2 avoided every year

Bolivia is a landlocked country with 11 million inhabitants and one of the poorest in Latin America: over a third of Bolivia’s population still lives below the poverty line. But Bolivia also has the highest economic growth on the continent, thanks to mining and energy resources. 

The country is also one of the most adversely affected by climate hazards. For example, in 2016, Bolivia faced the worst drought for the past 25 years: a state of emergency was declared.

There are also other challenges on top of the fight against climate change. Inhabitants, especially in rural areas, suffer from the poor quality of services for access to drinking water and sanitation. Another emergency is the need to diversify and secure national power generation.  

To address these challenges, the Bolivian authorities wanted AFD to focus its activity on the energy sectors, especially renewable energies, and water/sanitation. These priorities are in line with the country’s aim of ensuring universal access to electricity and water by 2025 and taking effective action against climate change.

AFD has been a partner of Bolivia since 2015. It implements loans to the State and technical assistance programs for actors in the energy and water sectors. 

AFD's Bolivia office is directly attached to the Andes regional office in Bogotá.

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