Supporting the National Plan for Watershed Management in Bolivia

Programme description

Title: Supporting the National Plan for Watershed Management in Bolivia
Commissioned by: European Union
Financier: European Union
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Bolivian Ministry of Environment and Water (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua – MMAyA)
Overall term: 2009 to 2012


Latin America is one of the most water-rich regions in the world. With three large transboundary watersheds (the Amazon River, the world’s biggest watershed, the La Plata river system and the Altiplano), Bolivia is among the countries of the world most richly endowed with water resources. However, it is also one of the poorest countries in Latin America. It is mainly the rural population, in particular the indigenous communities, that are affected by poverty. Sustainable water resource management is vital to generate income and reduce poverty. It therefore plays a key role in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.


The institutional framework for the sustainable and integrated management of watersheds at all levels has been strengthened, and the technical expertise of those involved in watershed management has improved.


Bolivia’s National Plan for Watershed Management contains strategic and political guidelines for the social, economic and ecological management of water resources. As part of a consortium that includes other specialist institutions, GIZ International Services (GIZ IS) provides support for the implementation of Bolivia’s National Plan for Watershed Management. The main focus of this support is on building up expertise and capacity at institutional level in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005). To this end, advice is primarily geared towards supporting the activities of the country’s Vice-Ministry for Water Resources and Irrigation (Viceministerio de Recursos Hídricos y Riego – VRHR).

The National Plan for Watershed Management is part of the national development plan and has five main objectives:

  • Reorganising the institutional landscape relating to watersheds as well as technical, procedural and organisational advice. This aims to:
    • promote coordination and cooperation processes between the various institutions
    • work with civil society to guarantee the integrated management of water resources
    • prevent conflicts arising over limited water resources.
  • Developing and implementing plans, policies, standards and laws in order to improve the sustainable use of natural resources in Bolivia’s watersheds
  • Introducing a knowledge management system to institutionalise organisational learning
  • Promoting and systematising the sustainable and integrated management of watersheds
  • Developing and implementing a corresponding programme for raising awareness among the population about the key issues and the project.

In cooperation with national and international experts and institutions, the project also coordinates the bidding process for studies and research on transboundary watersheds.

Results achieved so far

Bolivia’s Vice-Ministry for Water Resources and Irrigation has been equipped with management, information and assessment tools to ensure that it can effectively monitor and evaluate policy in the sector.

Capacity building measures have strengthened the institutional framework of the Vice-Ministry for Water Resources and Irrigation. The Vice-Ministry is now able to perform its official duties more effectively.

The organisation, systematisation and evaluation of the technical cooperation between the sector’s donors have been harmonised.

Projects and workshops have helped to improve the integrated use of water resources and the integrated management of watersheds.

On average, by January 2011 individual results had improved by over a quarter. The overall results achieved to date are above expectations.