Issue - February 2010



February 2010

Editorial

In this edition, Lena Midrez tells us about nutrition in Bolivia; Justin Gouin writes about Bolivian female migration looking for employment opportunities; Bolivia needs Ecological education; Walter Sánchez tells us about the history of transport in Cochabamba.read more...

February 2010

Bolivia’s Ecological Indifference

The Copenhagen Climate Council is a global collaboration between international business and science. It took place last December because of the Kyoto Protocol to prevent climate changes will end in 2012, and the international community needed to keep the process on the line. Unfortunately, the climate agreement which hardly needed to be renewed did not have the expected success.

Lena Midrez
Projects Abroad
Volunteer
Liège - Belgica

Last December, the international community got together to find a solution to the XXIst century’s main issue: climate change. Unfortunately, the results of the summit were pitiful: no restrictive treaty was signed. The worst thing is that non members of the Kyoto Protocol have made promises, which will not be under any scrutiny, and therefore have little chance of being followed up.

As the conference was becoming a disaster, Bolivia did not agree to any compromise: It refused to set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions or anti pollution norms. The country believes it is exempt from any ecological efforts. This is due to the fact that it does not have any historical responsibility regarding climate change. Although its industrial development is far from competing with developed countries, Bolivia is one of the worst in termsof environmental care. The most common South American ecological issues are present in the country: loss of vegetation and soil erosion; deforestation, overgrazing, agricultural chemical excess, water pollution, absence of urban decontamination, loss of biodiversity, the list goes on.

Soil erosion is certainly the main ecological problem in Bolivia because of its effect on the rural economy. The soil here loses its agricultural capabilities, and so becomes useless, which causes magnified poverty. Water pollution is one of the most worrying problems, due to the fact that it is the cause of the spreading of serious diseases. Lead miners have only taken minor precautions to avoid water contamination. However they are discharging huge quantities of polluted water without any preliminary processing. These discharges end up in the water pipes of the cities. For example, in Cochabamba, the Rio Rocha suffers from this absence of adequate processing, and the quality of the water it transports is awful. Finally, air pollution is crucial too.

Cochabamba is the town with the second highest atmospheric contamination index in Bolivia, according to troposfera.org, the first being El Alto. This is due to vast quantities of dust which is present in the city.

The very limited industrial development in Bolivia, can not explain such deplorable environmental conditions. The fact is, even though ninety four percent of the industries are tiny with less than five employees (aguabolivia.org), their locations are adjacent to residential areas. Most of Cochabamba’s industries are within the urban radius, which brings about issues to do with pollution and results in high competition for access to water.

Moreover, the population growth of some cities took place very little access to the most basic of services, and with badly coordinated urban development. This leads to tragic life conditions for the poorest inhabitants of Bolivia, and to a fast downward spiral of the quality of life amongst urban communities.

The absence of ecological awareness and of environmental education is a real tragedy. This education is essential for the development of responsible ecological attitudes, opinions, and behaviours. The people of Bolivia have to be aware of the significance of the environment, most importantly the cleaning up of the surroundings.

In Copenhagen, Evo Morales expressed the necessity of an authority which would constantly regulate firms and governments who pollute the most. In addition, he suggested a Global Referendum which could allow people from all over the world to make decisions regarding environmental politics. These ideas seem increadibly ambitious for a country with such bad environmental conditions.

Indeed, Bolivia is desperately short of a defined policy concerning the use and conservation of drinking water. Furthermore a policy regarding human, technical, and financial recourses responsible for environmental control is needed. A policy should also be made for environmental education and penalties which would penalize those who pollute. Even a general plan which could limit the amounts of industrial and domestic waste in the heart of the city center. Before teaching the world an environmental lesson, Bolivia should first of all improve these vital imperfections.

Stagecoaches, trams and buses

We do not know much about the history of transport in Cochabamba. It has been showed that big troops of llamas, of up to two thousands animals, travelled across the main roads during the Inca period, carrying corn, mainly to Cuzco.

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