Environmental Sustainability Issues in Bolivia

One of the most pressing environmental sustainability concerns in Bolivia is soil erosion from overgrazing and poor cultivation methods, including slash and burn agriculture. Over the past few decades, use of chemical fertilizers and overexploitation of renewable resources has all but destroyed the sustainability of agricultural lands in the Cochabamba region by creating a gaping deficit between nutrients added and nutrients taken from the soil. Due to the very poor soil quality, local agricultural communities surrounding Cochabamba produce consistently low crop yields year after year, afflicting the health of local farmers, their children, and the land they live on.

Other environmental sustainability concerns facing Bolivia include deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and industrial pollution of water supplies used for drinking and irrigation. Overuse of natural capital to meet short-term economic needs along with population pressures has left the country depleted of resources that traditionally supported the vast majority of its citizens. Unfortunately, large scale, top down projects funded by large development agencies typically fail at addressing these issues and targeting the areas most in need.

Alternatively, FSD supports grassroots environmental organizations that listen to and reflect the needs of struggling rural farmers and community members hit hard by the current conditions. Interns and volunteers work to improve the sustainable management of soil, water, and land use. An overreaching goal of our environmental sustainability program is to create public awareness and conduct outreach projects that offer easily integrated solutions. This is done through several channels, from working directly with the local university to teach courses and offering farmers micro-loans, to cultivating new water, irrigation, and sewage systems. By strengthening Cochabamba’s natural capital and educating/empowering rural communities, FSD aims to support the development of a strong, sustainable agricultural economy and ensure proper use of land in the present and the future.

Read more about Environmental Sustainability programs and opportunities initiated by our Community Partners in Bolivia.

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