On August 4, the World Bank (WB) Board of Executive Directors approved US$60 million in additional financing to expand the successful implementation of the Community Investment in Rural Areas Project (PICAR). The additional financing will increase the number of beneficiaries from 150 thousand to 350 thousand, most of them indigenous, and almost half women, in La Paz, Oruro, Chuquisaca, Cochabamba and Pando departments.
Up until now, a good portion of the initiatives were focused on creating or improving drinking water and sewer infrastructure, irrigation and micro-irrigation canals, pedestrian and vehicular bridges, greenhouses and cattle enclosures, among others.
The Minister of Rural Development and Lands, Nemesia Achacollo, said: “What we want is to strengthen development management capacities in the most vulnerable communities of the country’s poorest municipalities, through the organization and decisive involvement of women, as well as project self-management,”, adding: “Communities will analyze their issues and define solutions based on small projects carried out with their own labor and local materials, and with financial transfers from the Rural Development and Lands Ministry via PICAR. This has increased social capital and improved the well-being of our neediest communities.”
For the last four years, PICAR has complied with its goal of improving access to basic and productive infrastructure among poor rural communities. The additional financing will consolidate this intervention and expand its reach from 48 to 83 municipalities, increasing the number of participating communities from 642 to 1,200, as well as projects based on community-identified demands from 800 to 1,900. Up until now, a good portion of these initiatives were focused on creating or improving drinking water and sewer infrastructure, irrigation and micro-irrigation canals, pedestrian and vehicular bridges, greenhouses and cattle enclosures, among others.
“PICAR makes use of a novel method of direct transfers of investment resources to the most vulnerable rural communities. This is so that they are able to search for collective solutions to their basic and productive needs, lead projects and manage their own resources, enabling them to control their own development,” said Alberto Rodriguez, World Bank Country Director for Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.
In recent years Bolivia has achieved substantial progress in poverty reduction. According to official sources, during the 2002-2013 period the prevalence of moderate poverty dropped from 63 to 39 percent, while that of extreme poverty dropped from 37 to 19 percent. Despite these achievements, significant challenges still persist. Rural Bolivia, which harbors approximately 3.3 million inhabitants (30 percent of the total population), is still living in poverty; 6 out of 10 rural inhabitants below the poverty line, while 4 are classified as extremely poor. These conditions makes them more vulnerable to food insecurity, lack of basic services and economic opportunities. Indigenous groups and rural women are affected the most.
“We expect that at least 45 percent of PICAR beneficiaries will be women, with at least 20 percent being female head of households, the most vulnerable group among the poor,” said Nicola Pontara, World Bank Resident Representative in Bolivia.
Of all the projects undertaken so far, almost half have been selected, designed and managed by women. With this extension to the project, communities will be able to choose more than one sub-project as long as they take into account the opinion of women when making a decision.
This additional credit has a 25-year maturity period, includes a 5-year grace period and an annual 1.25 percent interest rate.