Supporting the new strategy for alternative development in Bolivia

Project description

Title: Supporting the new strategy for alternative development in Bolivia through the National Alternative Development Fund (Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Alternativo – FONADAL)
Commissioned by: European Union
Financier: EU – ALA (Asia and Latin America)
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture
Overall term: 2005 to 2011


To date, the Bolivian Government’s efforts to stem cocaine production have overlooked some important aspects of the problem. In poorer regions, where the rural population depends on coca cultivation, national programmes do not achieve their aims. This is the case in both nature conservation areas and in remote areas, where illegal cultivation is spreading. The government’s approach has been to reduce the extent of coca cultivation by helping farmers to grow other crops with a high market value such as coffee and cacao. This support is not linked to the destruction of coca plants, at least not in legally authorised cultivation areas such as Yungas in the administrative department of La Paz. However, the long-term aim is to make coca production unattractive to farmers and to offer them better alternatives, since the cultivation of coca is highly damaging in the long term from an ecological perspective, making the land increasingly unproductive.


Social conflicts, particularly in the region of Yungas (Department of La Paz), have been reduced in scale and social participation has improved among the population. Government institutions, in particular the National Alternative Development Fund (FONADAL) and its strategic partners, are able to design and implement sustainable policies in the alternative development sector.


The project is a key element of the European Union’s country strategy for Bolivia. It supports the Bolivian government in its efforts to strengthen the National Alternative Development Fund (FONADAL), which channels both domestic and international funds into the National Strategy for Alternative Development. At the same time, the project supports the Fund and the relevant ministry in their measures to design and implement a coordinated alternative development policy.

The framework for the project is provided by the Bolivian Integral Strategy in the Fight against Illegal Drugs Trading and the National Plan for Integral Development including Coca. Using confidence-building measures, the aim is to involve coca producers in devising new strategies for alternative development. Specifically, the project focuses on the following areas:

  • promoting communication between the government, coca producers and other parties involved by setting up joint meetings
  • creating a legal framework for financing programmes for alternative development that are not contingent on the fulfilment of certain conditions
  • developing a sustainable financing model
  • coordinating with approaches in other areas
  • introducing the subject of alternative development to international political discussions
  • establishing legal security in coca cultivation areas
  • preventing emigration into areas of illegal cultivation
  • implementing a development policy on curtailing illegal plantations in nature conservation areas
  • promoting the participation of women, youth and indigenous populations in alternative development.

Results achieved so far

The National Alternative Development Fund (Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Alternativo – FONADAL) currently finances development projects valued at around EUR 10 million per year, primarily in the coca cultivation areas of Yungas and Chapare, in order to protect national parks and in migration zones.

After a confidence-building phase to gain the trust of coca farmers, primarily through the provision of funding for social infrastructure projects, the focus is now on productive measures. Support is directed at projects that gradually decrease the extent to which farmers are dependent on the cultivation of coca. This is achieved, for example, through product marketing and the cultivation of alternative crops such as coffee, cacao, pineapple and tropical fruits.

The project has strengthened the organisational, administrative and technical efficiency of the FONADAL, which has now become the leading governmental organisation in the field of alternative development and an important tool in the government’s drive to implement its national alternative development policy in the coca sector.