Villa Gualberto Villarroel, better known as Cuchumuela, is the first municipality in Bolivia to achieve 100 percent water coverage. Official recognition for their achievement came from Bolivia’s water and environment ministry MMAyA. It is the story of a successful partnership between local government, communities and an international NGO, Water for People.
According to Mayor Oscar Terrazas, the foundation for achieving water for all 2,000 inhabitants of Cuchumuela was laid in 1996 when Bolivia passed the law on popular participation (Ley de Participación Popular). This gave local government and communities the power to set their own priorities for local services. Each of the 15 autonomous communities in Cuchumuela is responsible for the financial management and maintenance of their fully metered water system.
Cuchumela did not do it alone. They got support from “Everyone, forever” NGO Water For People, which helped construct the first water system in one community 5 years ago. Unlike other NGOs, Water for People didn’t take “a pretty picture for donors” and then leave. They implemented an annual sustainability-monitoring programme and stayed on until the last remote households got connected. And in between they still made a pretty video.
What is the next challenge for Cuchumela? For the head of community development in Cuchumela, Juan Carlos Villca, it is achieving 100 percent sanitation coverage, up from the current level of 80 percent.
See also: Water for People – Community-Based Leadership Ensures Sustainability