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IDB approves $14 million for biodiversity conservation program for Bolivia

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $14 million program for the conservation of the Andean ecosystems.

The objective of the program is to promote the conservation of agro biodiversity and the sustainable use of soil and water in Andean vertical ecosystems (EVAs), whose endangered native species and plants play a role in the food security of the Ayllus of northern Potosí and southeastern Oruro. Ayllus are prehispanic structures of territorial organization that still exist in the Andean region of Bolivia. The project is based on using the traditional Ayllu structures.

The program will help raise awareness about the importance of agro-biodiversity conservation and the value of traditional sustainable local soil and water conservation practices, which will be disseminated among beneficiaries of other agricultural development projects.

The project is composed of three components. Firstly, it will systematically gather information about soil, water, and agro biodiversity resources and tendencies as well as climate change impacts. Secondly, it will provide policy support; and establish a regulatory framework for the conservation of agro-biodiversity and natural resources, as well as for adaptation to climate change. This component will also, foster local capacity for vertical ecosystem management. Lastly, the program will recover and promote best practices and technologies for agro biodiversity conservation, and for restoring the productive capacity of vertical ecosystems.

By the end of the five-year period of this program, six municipalities are expected to have reached agreement on a regulatory framework for the conservation and sustainable use of soils, water, forests, and agro biodiversity native to the EVA. The program aims at achieving an average annual increase of at least 10% in productivity, and at least 15 percent in production of native and introduced species, in accordance with the traditional agricultural calendar. It will further increase the volume of products traded at fairs or in markets by 20 percent.

Bolivia is among the 15 countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world. Although much of Bolivia’s territory is in good conservation condition, 36 percent of its area is in critical condition. The project area, around the mountain range in northern Potosí, is especially vulnerable to processes of erosion. Northern Potosí and southeastern Oruro are home to 270 indigenous communities with 38,000 inhabitants. The project will directly target this area of about 2,900 square kilometers. Almost all of these inhabitants live below the extreme poverty threshold.

The executing agency for this five-year program will be the Bolivian Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MMAyA). Project execution will be highly participatory, as the executing unit will be guided by a Steering Committee made of Ayllu representatives and local municipalities, besides members of the MMAyA itself.

The program will be financed by a $6 million grant from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and counterpart funds of $8.1 million, comprising of nearly $500,000 from Bolivia’s MMAyA and resources from a previously approved $7.6 million IDB loan to the country.

The IDB is the main executing agency for GEF-financed projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB has helped countries in the region secure $70 million of projects that will be funded with grant resources from GEF since its partnership began in 2004. Currently, the IDB has $55 million of GEF-funded projects under execution.

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