Bolivia is a landlocked country in South America and is considered the least developed country of the subcontinent. There are only about 11 million people living in an area which is about three times the size of Germany. Since Bolivia gained independency from Spain in 1825, much of its subsequent history was affected by nearly 200 coups and countercoups. A democratic government was established in 1982, but the leaders had to face difficult problems like entrenched poverty, social unrest and illegal drug production.
As in many cities in developing countries and in new industrializing countries, the four metropolises in Bolivia – La Paz, El Alto, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba – are confronted with the problem of fast growing piles of rubbish. Organic, recyclable as well as toxic wastes are combined in open dumps. Because of the widespread poverty, an increasing number of people work as waste collectors in the streets or directly on the open dumps. Under undeserving conditions and with tremendous health risks, they work themselves through the piles of rubbish in search of usable materials, which they are able to sell afterwards to collecting centers in order to earn a couple of dollars.
In collaboration with the respective quarters, the project improves the working conditions as well as the income of these waste collectors, through the construction of simple collection systems for recyclable waste and the introduction of a waste separation directly in the households. Furthermore, the amount of produced waste will be reduced through the promotion of recycling processes. As a consequence, the dumps as well as the environmental burden will decrease.
Wastemanagement has become an important subject in municipal politics. Hence, the project meets a basic concern of the population and is also accepted well by the media. In the meantime, these positive reactions lead to a higher demand for support from medium-sized cities as well as rural areas, which could result in the extension of the target cities.
2009 – 2012