Supporting autonomy and decentralisation

Project description

Title: Supporting autonomy and decentralisation in Bolivia (AIRAD)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Ministerio de Autonomías del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia
Overall term: 2015 to 2019, completed


Bolivia has been a plurinational state since 2009. It recognises the rights of 36 indigenous peoples as independent nations. The constitution provides for a decentralised government structure with four levels of autonomy: departmental, regional, municipal and indigenous autonomies.

Implementing the decentralisation process is proving difficult, since the centralised government structure is firmly anchored in the political culture. This is particularly evident in the health and economic development sectors. There is no clearly defined distribution of tasks between different levels of government . As a consequence, the provision of services is highly inadequate, primarily affecting the poorer sections of the population.

Increased efficiency and more capacity development in these sectors are important for the country’s social and economic development. The establishment of a functioning, decentralised state promotes these objectives.


In the health and economic development sectors, selected subnational authorities have created better conditions for coordinating and decentralising services.


The project is active in three departments (Chuquisaca, Cochabamba and Pando), in nine municipalities and in one indigenous autonomy within the three departments. It operates in four areas of activity:

  1. coherent legal frameworks
  2. coordination mechanisms
  3. process simplification
  4. capacity development.

The project supports the governments and parliaments of the departments and municipalities in the drafting of laws and legal provisions. The participation of civil society is ensured, and due account is taken of gender equality and interculturality. The coordination mechanisms between subnational government levels in the health and economic development sectors are also being improved. Administrative processes such as budgeting and procurement are simplified, and modern training programmes provide training for specialists in areas such as legislative techniques and procedures, budget planning, budget implementation and economic management.


Supported by the project, several municipalities and departments have drafted laws and standards for sectoral development and tested new approaches. One example here is the law on the development of the honey sector in the department of Chuquisaca: developed jointly by the government, producers, distributors and experts, this law also sets ecological standards for sustainable production.

In the department of Pando, the administration has entered into a cooperation agreement with the municipalities for the joint development of the health sector plan. The department and municipalities have coordinated the objectives and indicators of the plan and these are now regularly reviewed with the participation of civil society.

The municipality of Mojocoya in the department of Chuquisaca has reorganised and optimised the procurement of purchases and services – orders for medicines are combined, for example, and the resulting larger volumes can be obtained more cheaply, saving administration costs.

The activities are characteristic of a pilot project: positive lessons learned are disseminated through forums, documented in manuals and incorporated into the development of training programmes, and these experiences can also be transferred to other departments and sectors across the country.

Additional information