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The Two Bolivias - a Global Sustainable Futures webinar

News: Mar 09, 2021

In the early years of the twenty-first century, indigenous and working-class people of Bolivia mobilised in protest of increasing inequalities and a divided society. These mobilizations eventually brought Evo Morales to power in 2006 as the country’s first indigenous president.

La Paz, Bolivia

This and the past 15 years of development formed the backdrop to a Global Sustainable Futures webinar on 2 March, where Anders Burman and Claudia Cossio presented their research and collaboration with Bolivia. Anders Burman is an associate professor at the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg, and Claudia Cossio who got her PhD at the Dept of Architecture and Civil Engineering at Chalmers in 2020 and is back in Bolivia now.

Anders Burman presented three concepts that can be of help to understand Bolivian society, namely coloniality, indigeneity and organisation. Colonial power structures raised barriers that made it impossible for a person of indigenous origin to become president of the country – until Evo Morales was elected in 2006. There are some 30 indigenous groups in Bolivia whose voices have increasingly been heard since the 1970’s. However, when indigeneity became part of the governance, it lost some of its revolutionary potential, argued Anders Burman. (1) And about organisation, he says:

“The Bolivian society may seem chaotic to an external observer – but almost everyone is part of organized collectives that defend group interests and mobilize political dissent”.

A useful tool

In Bolivia as in many other low- and middle-income countries wastewater treatment systems still face major challenges to contribute to sustainability. A collaboration between Chalmers, the Swedish University of Agriculture (SLU), San Simon University in Cochabamba in Bolivia and the Gothenburg-based and municipality owned wastewater company Gryaab, has developed a promising tool for assessing the potential of small wastewater treatment systems.

The many small towns in Bolivia of about 2,000–10,000 inhabitants are instrumental for the achievement of SDG 6, the Clean water and sanitation goal. However, without the financial means and institutional capacity for new investments, the need for a practical assessment tool was identified.

“The tool was developed to find the weak components of the systems”, explains Claudia Cossio.

The tool, called EVAS (EVAluation of Sustainability), uses indicators in five dimensions: technical, social, environmental, economic and institutional. It was tested in two small towns in the Cochabamba area with a very positive feedback, although there were also some improvements to be done, such as the reducing the risk for misinterpretation of the manual by the assessor. (2)

Claudia Cossio also mentioned that there is some progress in funding opportunities from the government. This is necessary as the case studies also point at needs for upgrading, for example, efficiency and safe reuse of water.

Short facts

Subject: Spotlight on Bolivia - from social mobilization to wastewater treatment
Speakers: Anders Burman, senior lecturer at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg and Claudia Cossio Grageda, PhD in architecture and civil engineering, Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Bolivia
Date: 2 March 2021
 


(1) see also Anders Burman’s article “Black hole indignity: the explosion and implosion of radical difference and power in Andean Bolivia” (open access).
(2) See also Claudia Cossio’s article “EVAS – a practical tool to assess the sustainability of small wastewater treatment systems in low and lower-middle-income countries” (open access).

Photo by Javier Collarte on Unsplash

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Denna text är utskriven från följande webbsida:
http://gmv.gu.se/global-sustainable-futures/news-and-events/news/news-detail//the-two-bolivias---a-global-sustainable-futures-webinar-.cid1713503
Utskriftsdatum: 2021-06-21