The most attractive municipalities in Bolivia (as measured by growth in electricity meters)

Last week we showed in this post how big data from household electricity meters can be used to estimate measures of energy poverty and inequality at the municipal level in Bolivia. The objective of this blog is to show how electricity meter data can also be used to infer information about recent population dynamics in the country. Such information is not just of interest from a sustainable development perspective, but it also provides valuable information to orient both public and private investments.

A simple way to identify the most attractive municipalities in Bolivia is to see where the number of residential electricity meters with positive electricity consumption (which suggests inhabited dwellings) is increasing the most. Figure 1 shows the 50 municipalities that have added most residential electricity meters (with positive electricity consumption) between 2013 and 2016. Map 1 shows were these municipalities are located in Bolivia.

Santa Cruz de la Sierra and El Alto lead the table, each adding about 11 thousand electricity meters with positive consumption per year. They are followed by La Paz and Cochabamba each adding about 7 thousand electricity meters per year. Further down we find the other six departmental capitals of Bolivia (black) and most of the municipalities that make up the metropolitan areas of La Paz (red), Santa Cruz (blue) and Cochabamba (green).

The remaining grey municipalities represent what could be called “Growing intermediate municipalitie.” They are not departmental capitals, nor are they part of Bolivia’s three main metropolitan areas, but they are nevertheless attracting quite a lot of people.  The intermediate municipalities that attract most people in Bolivia are: Punata, Yacuiba, Montero, Villa Tunari, Riberalta, Villamontes, Caracollo, Yapacaní, Puerto Villarroel, Entre Ríos (Cochabamba), San Ignacio de Velazco, and San Julián; all growing by more than 500 electricity meters per year. 

Figure 1: The top 50 most dynamic municipalities in Bolivia, 2013-2016 (as measured by the average annual increase in domestic electricity meters with positive consumption).

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019)

Map 1: The top 50 most dynamic municipalities in Bolivia, 2013-2016 (as measured by the average annual increase in domestic electricity meters with positive consumption).

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019), Map kindly produced by Lily Peñaranda

Below the 50 municipalities listed in Figure 1 are 289 other municipalities that are apparently much less attractive to internal migrants, and which probably have trouble keeping young people of reproductive age to form new households, but very few municipalities have actually seen a decrease in active electricity meters.

As a way of promoting the exchange of information, we encourage readers living in one of the 50 municipalities on the list to comment below about what makes their municipality particularly attractive.


* Lykke E. Andersen, Ph.D., Executive Director of SDSN Bolivia at:

** Boris Branisa, Ph.D., Director, Instituto para el Desarrollo del Emprendimiento y la Competitividad (iDEC), Escuela de la Producción y la Competitividad (ePC), Universidad Católica Boliviana “San Pablo”.

*** Guillermo Guzmán, Ph.D., Centro de Investigaciones Sociales (CIS) de la Vicepresidencia del Estado.

The viewpoints expressed in the blog are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of their institutions. These posts are part of the project “Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia at the municipal level” that is currently carried out by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Bolivia, of which both iDEC and CIS are members.


Four SDSN Bolivia member institutions working together on the Erasmus+ EARTH project

One of the objectives of SDSN Bolivia is to promote collaboration between network members in order to work more effectively towards sustainable development. We are therefore pleased to announce the start of a three-year project called EARTH (Education, Agriculture, Resources for Territory and Heritage) with the participation of several SDSN Bolivia member institutions.

The project involves six countries (Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Italia, France and Spain) and 11 higher education/research institutions. The kick-off meeting took place from the 25th to the 28th of March at the University of Molise in Campobasso, Italy, with the participation of Lykke Andersen from SDSN Bolivia and INESAD, Boris Branisa from iDEC-ePC-UCB and INESAD, Fernanda Wanderley and Jean-Paul Benavides from IISEC-UCB and Oscar Bazoberry from CIDES-UMSA.

The project is financed by the European Union and aims to generate a dense network of exchange of ideas and training between universities in Europe and Latin America on the topic of territorial planning and management in rural areas. The goal is to ensure that the participating institutions can contribute effectively in the design and implementation of rural development policies in their respective countries.

 The last day of the kick-off meeting was dedicated to field visits to various rural development initiatives around Campobasso, including the Collemeluccio Pecolanciano protected area; the cheese production facility Caseificio Di Nucci; the distributed lodging hotel Castel del Giudice; and an organic fruit farm. The day ended at the town hall of Frosolone, where the mayor received the group.  Below is a video about the kick-off meeting (in Italian):

A day at the Pipiripi Museum

For SDSN Bolivia the Pipiripi Interactive Children’s Museum, under the tuition of the Municipal Government of La Paz, has become a strategic space that allows the involvement of the smallest city dwellers in the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Every Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the museum welcomes approximately 1,500 children. Many of the visitors embark on trips from the city’s peripheral neighbourhoods, which sometimes do not have access to such basic services as drinking water or sewage. Read More

Measuring energy poverty and inequality at the municipal level in Bolivia

Energy consumption is closely related to income levels. The more readily usable energy and the more efficient energy converting technologies are available, the better are the conditions for the development of individuals, households, communities, the society and the economy (i). Electricity is one of the most useful and versatile energy forms available. It can be used for both heating and cooling, for producing light and sound, for running a wide variety of appliances, machinery, and vehicles, and even for creating money (e.g. bitcoins require huge amounts of electricity). Read More

HIV is on the rise in Bolivia, but it is concentrated in just a handful of municipalities

Thanks to the diligent work the Programa Nacional ITS/VIH/SIDA y Hepatitis Virales did in Bolivia; we are able to present a good overview of the HIV situation in Bolivia. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The bad news is that it has been on the rise for the last two decades, but the good news is that it is still at a low level by international standards, and it is concentrated in just a handful of municipalities. Read More

Deforestation in Bolivia at the municipal level

This blog post is the first in a series that aim to contribute analysis, data and indicators to the upcoming Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia at the municipal level coordinated by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Bolivia. The Atlas will provide a very detailed baseline on the situation of each of the 339 municipalities in Bolivia regarding each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. To secure that the Atlas includes the best possible indicators, based on the best available data, we encourage the feedback of our readers, many of whom are experts on one or more of the SDG topics in Bolivia. Read More