Bolivia: Eliodoro Uriona Pardo, mayor of Toro Toro

Eliodoro Uriona Pardo, mayor of Toro Toro in Bolivia

As mayor of the arid region of Toro Toro in Bolivia, Eliodoro Uriona Pardo is committed to improving the local water supply. GIZ is helping him to equip families with their own irrigation systems. Thanks to the work carried out on behalf of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the harvest in Toro Toro is now more reliable and plentiful. The income of poor families has risen by an average of 300 per cent.

Why are you so committed to helping rural communities?

I have first-hand experience of how difficult it is to have no roads, no schools and no health care in the surrounding area. From the stories I have been told, I know how hard life used to be for my father and for others. I wanted to change that. That’s why I started standing up for poor village communities. I want to provide new opportunities for people and offer guidance, especially to women, so that they are no longer simply responsible for taking care of the home and livestock.

How did the new irrigation systems in Toro Toro come about?

I convinced GIZ to visit our region. We eventually signed an agreement and now cooperate very effectively. That is important for us because the right irrigation technology plays a crucial role in our arid region. We were able to boost our harvest by diversifying the crops we grow and making good use of crop rotation. This made us more independent. We are still taking part in consultation and training activities to learn more about new farming methods.

What advice do you give your citizens?

Become independent of the municipality and aid organisations and learn to be self-sufficient.

What do you think the future holds for your municipality?

There should be no more malnutrition. I hope that even more communities will have good irrigation systems and, like us, will be able to grow more vegetables and other crops. For Toro Toro, I believe the future lies in further processing to boost the region’s income and set an example for other communities.

You travel a lot. What does your family think of that?

I work 14 to 15 hours every day. There are no weekends for me – quite the opposite, in fact. The weekend is when I work most. As mayor, I am primarily responsible for ensuring the wellbeing of the people here in my region. Luckily, my wife is head of the local school. She has a lot to do, too, and supports me.


        
    
As mayor, Eliodoro Uriona Pardo works virtually round the clock. His family supports him. Photos: Cornelius Scriba
As mayor, Eliodoro Uriona Pardo works virtually round the clock. His family supports him. Photos: Cornelius Scriba

        
    
The nerve centre: Eliodoro Uriona Pardo (43) would rather see the situation for himself than spend too much time in his office in Toro Toro…
The nerve centre: Eliodoro Uriona Pardo (43) would rather see the situation for himself than spend too much time in his office in Toro Toro…

        
    
… and has already left the town hall to head for the dry mountain landscape. Toro Toro is located in a national park in the Bolivian Andes.
… and has already left the town hall to head for the dry mountain landscape. Toro Toro is located in a national park in the Bolivian Andes.

        
    
Water is scarce, which makes farming more difficult in the region. The right irrigation technology is crucial.
Water is scarce, which makes farming more difficult in the region. The right irrigation technology is crucial.

        
    
Between 2008 and 2013, around 1,500 irrigation systems were set up in the entire project area. 2,700 farming families benefit from them.
Between 2008 and 2013, around 1,500 irrigation systems were set up in the entire project area. 2,700 farming families benefit from them.

        
    
Bolivians call this fruit, a member of the passion fruit family, ‘tumbo’. It is now irrigated and harvested in large quantities.
Bolivians call this fruit, a member of the passion fruit family, ‘tumbo’. It is now irrigated and harvested in large quantities.

        
    
GIZ supports farmers, who help set up the irrigation systems themselves. The installation of this sprinkler system is an example.
GIZ supports farmers, who help set up the irrigation systems themselves. The installation of this sprinkler system is an example.

        
    
Always in the thick of it: Eliodoro Uriona Pardo feels responsible for his citizens and is proud that, together with GIZ, he has improved their lives.
Always in the thick of it: Eliodoro Uriona Pardo feels responsible for his citizens and is proud that, together with GIZ, he has improved their lives.

        
    
Eliodoro Uriona Pardo gives a speech to mark the laying of the foundation stone for a new irrigation project.
Eliodoro Uriona Pardo gives a speech to mark the laying of the foundation stone for a new irrigation project.

        
    
A meeting of the local council of Toro Toro.
A meeting of the local council of Toro Toro.