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Strengthening the National Service for the Sustainability of Basic Sanitation Services (SENASBA) for the joint work with water community systems associations in peri-urban areas of Cochabamba, Bolivia.
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Project description

In Cochabamba, more than half of the population has no access to the public water distribution system, who are mainly settled in the peri-urban areas. Apart from the low coverage, those who have this service receive it only some days and need of some storage for facing the lack of continuity of the service. Among those who do not have service, some have formed neighborhood organizations for managing wellsor storage tanks with water from private vendors trucks. In these cases the water quality is not safe. This situation is clearly reflected in the child mortality rates that are four times higher in the areas without access to water. The increasing water demand is a result of progressive migrations from the countryside to the city of Cochabamba for the last 23 years. Rural migrants have settled in the south area of the city of Cochabamba, demanding basic services, with a limited institutional response of the Servicio Municipal de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado (SEMAPA, Municipal Service of Potable Water and Sanitation) that has been unable to resolve the problem due to a lack of water sources and investment.This situation has made the population to organize forming Committees, Cooperatives, Associations and different forms of associations, for supplying potable water in the areas. The population in this way is trying to access water services, sometimes with the help of some ONG or the State. The Asociación de Sistemas Comunitarios de Agua del Sur (ASICASUR, Association of Water Communal Systems of the South) is a social non-profit civil organization. It represents the different Community Water Systems that independently manage water and sanitation services. It was founded on 2004. Their vision is “water is life: it is an inalienable right of every life and not a merchandise”. Currently, ASICASUR has 50 Community Water System Organizations registered, while other 50 associations are in the process of registration. It represents aproximately 150.000 inhabitants.The National Service for the Sustainability of Basic Sanitation Services, SENASBA, has been created through the Supreme Decree Nº 29741 dated October 15, 2008, as a public institution with administrative, financial, legal and technical managerial autonomy under the supervision of the Ministry of Environment and Water . SENASBA’s mission is the development and strengthening, in a participative, inclusive, fair and transparent manner, the capabilities of the service providers to sustain the potable water and sanitation services, contributing to the well-beeing of the Bolivian population. SENASBA’s interested in working jointly with ACICASUR to improve the service provision, since community water systems are natural society organizations, congregating an important number of users, and at the moment they have been able to manage the water and sanitation services in the absence of a main water operators. The project aims at developing toolkits for SENASBA to promote participative project implementation, inter-sectoral, and differentiated intervention processes in technical assistance, institutional strengthening, community development, technological transference and training, to improve the managerial capability of the small community water operators in peri-urban areas in Cochabamba.
Location: Cochabamba
- Water, Sanitation and Infrastructure
Partner: SENASBA, ACICASUR (Water Community System Association)
- Water Sanitation and Infrastructure
Budget: USD 450,000

Focus Area(s)

- FA4: Environmentally sound basic urban infrastructure and services


Bolivia, with a population of more than 9 million inhabitants, is one of the countries with the highest poverty indicators of the region. In the year 2006, the per capita income was US$1.153, and almost 40% of the population lived in extreme poverty conditions.  Moreover, Bolivia is affected by a high level of inequality, since approximately 10% of the population receives 40% of the national income. The current government, established in January 2006, has defined as one of its priorities the fight against poverty, inequality and the population’s exclusion in the decision making processes, through the participation of the people and a significant intervention of the State in the economic activities.In Bolivia, approximately 2.3 million of inhabitants do not have access to potable water. Close to 5 million of inhabitants do not have access to an appropriate sanitation service,  according to the Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda (National Population and Housing Census) in the year 2001.The approval of the Constitución Política del Estado (State’s Political Constitution) in January 2009 marks a milestone in the change of vision regarding the water and sanitation services, since it states: “ Water constitutes in a fundamental right for life, in the people’s sovereign framework". The state will promote the use and access of water based on the principles of solidarity, complementarities, reciprocity, equity, diversity y sustainability” (Art. 373, I .CPE).Furthermore, the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo (National Development Plan) determines the need of strengthening policies and actions of sustainability in the operation and maintenance of the basic services in general, including water and sanitation. For this, the Multinational State of Bolivia has created the Servicio Nacional para la Sostenibilidad de Servicios en Saneamiento Básico (SENASBA), to promote processes of sustainability in public investment in basic sanitation projects


  • The general objective is to develop toolkits for SENASBA to promote project participative implementation, inter-sectoral, and differentiated intervention processes for technical assistance, institutional strengthening, community development, technological transference and training in order to improve the management capacities and skills of small community water operators  in periurban areas in Cochabamba.
  • To validate the intervention process in technical assistance, social and organizational strengthening of the ASICASUR’s Communal Water Systems.
  • To have an institutional strengthening program for sub-urban operators of FEDECOR as a result of a participative process.

Target Group

  • 50 ASICASUR’s Water Community Systems and ASICASUR as an organization, with the improvement in the provision of services. In population terms, it is estimated that 150.000 inhabitants will be benefited of this programme.


If you may be interested in funding this project, please contact us: info.rmu@unhabitat.org
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