The Bolivian Highlands: A challenge for the country’s development

The progress made in the development of indicators for the Municipal Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia highlights the fact that the Andean region is lagging behind in several respects. It stands out for its high poverty and inequality levels, reduced budgetary execution capacity at the municipal level, high levels of child malnutrition, high infant mortality rates and alarming levels of emigration.

In view of this, we visited some of the municipalities around the Titicaca lake in order to approach the reality that the numbers and indicators draw for us. We visited Achacachi, Huarina, Ancoraimes, Escoma, Mocomoco and Carabuco. In all those municipalities we find that the population has aged and that most of the youth are migrating into big cities or other countries in search for better opportunities.

In Carabuco and Escoma we found the Asociación Familia de Artesanos Don Bosco, an association led by an Italian family representing the Operación Mato Grosso organization, founded in 1967. They call themselves a suigeneris youth movement and highlight their character as a formative movement for youth. The Director, Stefano Zordan, tells us that this is a group of volunteers that focuses efforts in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia (Carabuco and Escoma), where projects are small but with high social and economic impact. The organization is closely linked to the Salesian order, the bishopric and the Bolivian episcopal conference, given that its founder, Ugo de Censi, was a faithful follower of Don Bosco.

In Carabuco, the Zordan family is in charge of a private secondary school. At first, we were perplexed by the existence of a private school in one of the poorest municipalities in Bolivia -In 2012, 86.6% of the population did not have access to basic needs and in 2016, 83.7% of the homes were under conditions of Extreme Energy Poverty.

Zordan explains that despite being private, the Don Bosco Workshop Educational Unit offers its services free of charge to all its students and is exclusively aimed at benefiting children with scarce resources from communities belonging to several municipalities in the area. It is a boarding school that children return to on Sunday afternoon and leave every Saturday morning. While in school, children are guaranteed food, accommodation and instruction, all for free. Zordan says they gained the communitys’ trust since 1994 when the school was opened for the first time.

One of the main problems the Italian organization encountered in the Bolivian Highlands, is that “… migration of young people is the reality of the countryside. For young people, there is no dream. In that sense 20, 30, 40 years ago, people worked on their farms, in agriculture, or fishing… and they used to stay here. Now with the advent of the internet and communication, young people see the possibility to have different things. They say: ‘I also want a nice house; I want to give my children a better life and education’. So, young men finish high school and leave. There is no industry, there is nothing for them here. The soil is difficult and dry. You can build greenhouses, but working the land is very hard and young people do not want to do it.”

The schools’ goal is to provide youth with quality technical and professional training as a way of incentivizing them not to leave the community. Through training in the art of carpentry, mosaics and embroidery, upon graduation students acquire enough skills for their own livelihoods. Once they graduate from high school, where they comply with all regulations required by the ministry of education, they have the possibility to stay in the workshop as artisans either in Carabuco or in Escoma. They are given the opportunity to earn a salary by crafting sculptures, furniture or mosaics for distribution in the national market, thus making life in the countryside viable.

The association created in the year 2000 is responsible for the nationwide distribution of the workshops’ production. There are already 40 artisans who decided not to leave Carabuco after graduating from the boarding school. As a result, 40 families are living and activating the local economy. Greater demand for services and trade is perceived. In general, more human activity is perceived, thus promoting development in the community. The municipal Kindergarten, Zordan says, is full of the artisans’ children, unlike other villages, where schools are becoming empty.

The school is funded by donations from the Italian organization. On the contrary, the association is self-sustained and depends entirely on the young artisans’ work. High sums are charged for the beautifully hand-crafted products and only the best inputs are used in every piece they produce.

Besides paying the artisans’ salary with the workshops’ income, the Zordan family provides them with access to additional financial resources to build their homes in the community. Given the regulation of rural lands in Bolivia, rural landowners do not have access to affordable housing credits as people do in the metropolitan areas. Only the use of rural land is guaranteed by law, not the disposition of it. Rural landowners do not own the land rights, making it impossible to access a mortgage loan or a so-called social housing credit, ironically intended for the poorest segments of society. Instead, the minimum interest rate they have access to is 20%. Despite these regulations, land transactions in the rural area are possible, as unreliable as they are, they do not have the documented support or the public registry that helps avoid conflicts between both parties involved in the transaction. The point being is, that thanks to the loan the association makes available to them with the money they themselves generate, young artisans have the possibility to acquire land and build their homes near their work source. Zordan says to this: “Of the small profit the association makes, 99% we use to lend to artisans to build their houses and support their children. Actually, we give away the money, we don’t lend. If they can and manage to pay it back, it is okay… if not, it’s not in our interest to get it back. We’re not a bank. The goal is for families not to migrate… for them to stay here”.

This is a way in which we were able to understand how poverty manifests itself in the Bolivian Highlands. We also had the opportunity to see how small, but effective efforts can make a difference in reversing migration processes.

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* Lily Peñaranda, M.Sc., Chief Development Manager, SDSN Bolivia.

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 “Municipal Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia” that is currently carried out by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Bolivia

The fiscal resource management capacity in Bolivian municipalities

It is difficult to find good information about SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions at the municipal level in Bolivia. However, UDAPE recently published a very helpful Fiscal Atlas. Specifically, the indicator that measures Budget Execution helps us understand how each of the municipalities is doing with regard to goal 16.6: Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. Municipalities with low Budget Execution capabilities are clearly not operating at their best, given that not even the low annual budget assigned to them by their Annual Operating Plan (POA) is fully spent/invested. This suggests a lack of management capabilities at the local level, which will probably hinder their capacity to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Graph 1 shows Budget Execution (% of the annual assigned budget for 2017, that was spent/invested) for a selection of municipalities (the 28 municipalities with more than 50 thousand inhabitants and the 15 municipalities with under 2 thousand inhabitants in 2017). The simple average for all municipalities in Bolivia reaches 70.7%, signifying that municipalities have executed available financial resources up to September, leaving funds for the remaining months of the year in the National Treasury (TGN).

The same graph shows the amplitude of capacities among a variety of municipalities. The best performing municipality executed 94% of the budget, but the worst performing only 15%. In general, municipalities with larger populations tend to have a better Budget Execution capability, while municipalities with low Budget Execution capabilities all have small populations. In 2017, Puerto Siles, with less than 1000 inhabitants, executed only 15% of its annual assigned budget, not even reaching the end of February in terms of annual expenditure. Trinidad, on the other hand, spent its assigned budget for the year up to early December in 2017. The two municipalities represent the extremes, but the variability in the effective use of financial resources between the remaining 337 municipalities is very high.

Graph 1. Budget Execution of municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants and municipalities with less than 2,000 inhabitants, 2017

Source: Own elaboration based on data from the Fiscal Atlas of UDAPE.

Table 1 shows a clear relation between population size and execution capability. Municipalities with populations equal to or larger than 250,000, reach a Budget Execution average of 86.2%. Municipalities with populations ranging between 20,000 and 250,000 inhabitants, achieve an average of 76.2%. However, most municipalities have between 2,000 and 20,000 inhabitants and their Budget Execution capability average is very close to the total average of 70%. Very small municipalities with less than 2,000 inhabitants, on the other hand, have an execution capability average of only 51.7%. Despite these figures, there are small municipalities with high execution capabilities and larger municipalities that show a capacity lower than the total average. This is the case for Huachacalla and Montero respectively (see Graph 1).

Table 1: Budget Execution, by municipal population size, 2017

Source: Own elaboration based on data from the Fiscal Atlas of UDAPE.

Graph 2 shows a negative relationship between Budget Execution and Extreme Energy Poverty (1). The correlation is not strong (ρ = -0.31), but it probably reflects a vicious cycle between poverty and local management capabilities.

Graph 2. Extreme Energy Poverty (2016) and Budget Execution (2017)

Source: Own elaboration based on Atlas Fiscal de UDAPE data; and Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019).

It is also evident from the size of the bubbles that all municipalities with low Budget Execution capabilities are small and very poor. For those reasons, young people tend to leave these municipalities, which therefore tend to become even smaller over time.

Notes

(1) A previous article describes how Extreme Energy Poverty is measured

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

** Lily Peñaranda, M.Sc., Chief Development Manager, SDSN Bolivia.

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 “Municipal Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia” that is currently carried out by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Bolivia.

The impacts of deforestation on biodiversity in Bolivia

The world is widely believed to be in the midst of the sixths mass extinction event, this time caused by humans rather than meteors or volcanic eruptions. A recent study by WWF estimates that vertebrate abundance in the world has decreased by about 60% since 1970. The main drivers of biodiversity loss around the world are over-exploitation of species (e.g. hunting and fishing) and habitat loss due to land use change (e.g. deforestation).

One of the most important goals of SDG 15: Life on Land is to stop further biodiversity loss, so for our upcoming Municipal Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia, we need an indicator reflecting biodiversity loss in each municipality. In this blog, we will present what we think is the best possible indicator that can be calculated with the data available.

Our proposal is based on the following key assumptions:

  1. Biodiversity loss in Bolivia is mainly driven by habitat loss. While some particularly attractive or tasty species are being over-hunted/fished, this effect is dwarfed by the billions of animals and plants that get obliterated when Bolivian forests are converted to agricultural land at a rate of several hundred thousand hectares per year.
  2. Habitat loss in areas with high species diversity is worse for biodiversity than habitat loss in areas with lower species diversity. Thus, deforestation in areas with thousands of different species is given more weight in our species disturbance indicator than deforestation in areas with few different species.
  3. All species are given equal weight. The indicator we develop below gives equal weight to all species, irrespective of their cuteness, their economic value, or how threatened they are.

Given those three key assumptions, we can calculate an Index of Species Disturbance (ISD) at the municipal level by overlapping a map of deforestation at very high resolution (1) with a map of Species Richness (2).

The basic idea behind the ISD indicator is illustrated conceptually in Figure 1 below, which provides a couple of numerical examples to illustrate how the indicator is calculated. Although each municipality in the real calculations contains hundreds of thousands of pixels, in our simple numerical example we have included only 9 pixels. The number written in each pixel indicates the level of Species Richness, and it can vary between 0 and 2825. It indicates how many species can naturally live in the area out of a group of several thousand taxa indicator species (according to a 2005 study by FAN, referenced in footnote 2).

Figure 1 contains two examples: (a) and (b). In both examples, 2 out of 9 pixels have been deforested (indicated in red), meaning that the deforestation rate in both examples is 22%. However, in panel (a) deforestation took place in areas with relatively low Species Richness, while in panel (b) it took place in areas with high Species Richness, leading to very different numbers for the Index of Species Disturbance (ISD): 13% in case (a) and 42% in case (b).

Figure 1: Conceptualization of the Index of Species Disturbance (ISD)

Source: Authors’ calculations

The index is simple to calculate (using ArcGIS) and simple to interpret. If the deforestation rate is zero, the ISD is also 0% and if the deforestation rate is 100%, the ISD is also 100%. If deforestation takes place in a place with average species richness, the ISD coincides with the deforestation rate, but if deforestation takes place in areas of high species richness the ISD will be higher than the deforestation rate, and vice versa.

At the national level the average annual Index of Species Disturbance during 2016 and 2017 was 0.36% per year. The municipality with the highest ISD in 2016-2017 was Pailón at 2.12% per year. This was followed by La Guardia with an ISD of 2.08% per year, and Cuatro Cañadas with 1.76%. Map 1 shows that, in general, the highest ISD values are found in the department of Santa Cruz, where deforestation is also concentrated.

In absolute terms, the biggest disturbance of species is taking place in just a dozen municipalities, which were responsible for more than half of the disturbance of species in Bolivia in 2016 and 2017. Ten of these municipalities are located in the department of Santa Cruz, one in Beni, and one in La Paz.

Map 1: Average Index of Species Disturbance in Bolivia, 2016 – 2017, and contribution to the total species disturbance, by municipality

Source: Authors’ calculations.
Note: Only municipalities with more than 0.1 km2 of forest in 2015 were included in the analysis.

While no single indicator of biodiversity loss is perfect, we believe the one shown in Map 1 reflects well the different levels of pressure on biodiversity caused by deforestation across Bolivian municipalities.

 

Footnotes:

 

(1) Deforestation data is calculated for 2016 and 2017 from the Hansen Global Forest Change data set version 1.5. https://earthenginepartners.appspot.com/science-2013-global-forest/download_v1.5.html). The pixels are of approximately 27.2 x 27.2 meters, implying that the whole country is covered by almost 1.5 billion pixels. Calculations have been made for each of these 1.5 billion pixels and have subsequently been aggregated to the municipal level.

(1) Riqueza Absoluta de Especies de FAN (Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza) (2005) Visión de conservación de la biodiversidad en el corredor Amboró-Madidi. Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia: Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza.

 

 

 

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* Lykke E. Andersen, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Bolivia.

** Juan Carlos Ledezma, Scientific Manager, Conservation International – Bolivia.

 

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Bolivia is currently preparing a Municipal Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia. It is a significant collaborative effort involving many different institutions. The viewpoints expressed in the blog are the responsibility of the authors and may not reflect the position of their institutions. Readers are encouraged to provide feedback in the comments below or directly to the overall coordinator of the Atlas, Dr. Lykke E. Andersen, Executive Director of SDSN Bolivia at Lykke.E.Andersen@sdsnbolivia.org.

Empty homes in the Bolivian highlands: Evidence of temporary and incomplete migration

With huge efforts and investments, Bolivia has achieved fairly high electricity coverage. According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, in 2016, 93% of the population had access to electricity (1), and if the trend continues as it has the past 6 years, the country would have almost complete coverage in 2025.

However, by analyzing the data from residential electricity meters across the country (2), we find that in many places in Bolivia the access to electricity is not fully taken advantage off. In fact, around a quarter of all municipalities in Bolivia registered more than 20% of homes with zero consumption during the month of May 2016, which suggests temporarily empty homes. As can be seen from the map below, empty homes are concentrated mostly in the Bolivian highlands, in the south-western part of the country. In contrast, in the lowlands of Bolivia, the percentages of zero-consumption are generally below 10%. In capital cities the percentage of zero-consumption generally ranges between 4% and 6%, except for El Alto, where it is 9%.

Map 1: Proportion of residential electricity meters with zero electricity consumption during May 2016, per municipality.

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019). Map kindly elaborated by José Acuña.

The electricity consumption data seems to indicate a process of incomplete migration in Bolivia. Many people migrate in search of better opportunities, mainly to the 50 municipalities listed in the article titled “The most attractive municipalities in Bolivia“, but also across international borders. People embark on this migratory process, apparently, without losing the strong ties with their communities of origin. As described in another poverty-related article, this could be related to laws that apply to rural property rights, mainly in the Highlands. People are only allowed to transfer the land to other members of their family through inheritance, which not only implies a process of excessive fragmentation of the land, leading to extremely small properties that do not cover for the most basic necessities for the owners, but also establishes a strong and almost unbreakable bond between the rural community and the Individual.

Another obvious reason which may help explain the empty home phenomenon, is the climate in the Highlands, which is known to be very dry and cold during the winter and does not easily allow for agricultural activities. The lack of alternative options in the area makes people look for different activities in the city.

To better understand the dynamics of migration in the Highlands, we decided to visit some of the most peripheral neighborhoods of the city of El Alto, considering that El Alto is the second most attractive destination for those who decide to leave their homes in other municipalities or towns.

We were able to visit the neighborhoods of San Roque and Villa 10 de Mayo, which are located on the road towards Copacabana, a municipality near the Titicaca lake. It was hard to find homes with people, but we did gain access to five households whose members gave us their time to answer a few of our questions.

In all cases, the families came from villages far from the urban centers of the following municipalities: Umanata (La Paz), Pucarani (La Paz), Huayllamarca (Oruro) and Achacachi (La Paz). In two of the cases the villages of origin of the families had no direct access to any road. According to these interviews, the main reason for emigration is access to work and economic resources, not very different from any other economic migrant in the world. However, listening to their testimonies provides more vivid images of the variety of situations that have caused them to migrate.

A main problem at their places of origin is the small property sizes that does not allow for efficient levels of production. In addition, yields tend to be low due to climatic constraints, and prices of the typical native products, such as potatoes, in the domestic markets are low.  Raising livestock is not feasible on such small plots either. As another important aspect, most interviewees highlight climate change and a higher frequency of freezing temperatures as an impediment for cultivation. In the words of a father (38) of 6 children “The village (Ticati, Umanata) is empty; only elderly people remain there“.

On the other hand, of the 5 families interviewed, 3 have close relatives that migrated abroad, with the main destination being the neighboring country of Argentina and the second most important destination, Brazil. In almost all cases, migrants said they would return to their places of origin if they had better working and economic conditions, and highlighted their intention to return to their community if the economic situation did not improve in the city. In general, they do not want to lose the link with their place of origin and all interviewees return more than 5 times a year, and some even more than once a month. As an example, one of the women interviewed (54) currently has the position of Bartolina (3) in the municipality of Achacachi, despite having moved to El Alto 18 years ago.

Although these few interviews do not provide sufficient evidence for firm conclusions, the empty homes, as evidenced by the many electricity meters with zero electricity consumption, do suggest that current land regulation may create poverty traps in rural areas, and probably prevents a much needed land consolidation process from happening, which could allow the establishment of rural land holdings of more profitable and sustainable size.

 

Notes:

(1) See this link.

(2) The data comes from the Viceministry of Electricity as inputs for a project that we are developing with the Center for Social Research (CIS) of the Vicepresidency.

(3) Bartolina is a woman, generally with indigenous origins, that holds a high ranking political and administrative position in the Aymara culture and is currently recognized by the country’s constitution and as an official representation in indigenous communities.

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* Lykke E. Andersen, Ph.D., Executive Director OF SDSN Bolivia.

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

*** Lily Peñaranda, M.Sc., SDSN Bolivia, Co-Editor of Municipal Atlas of the SDGs in Bolivia, Coordinator of the Master’s Program in International Relations for the Faculty of Political Sciences (UMSA).

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 CIS is a member.

Business dynamism in Bolivia

In this article, we show how energy consumption data can be used to obtain information about the business dynamism in the country. Typically, one would use information from Fundempresa (1) to understand what is going on with the business sector, but Fundempresa only includes the most formal enterprises, which comprise a low percentage of the total (2), and the data is only available at the departmental level.

There are several ways to evaluate business dynamism through energy-consumption micro-data. The simplest way, and the equivalent of what we have shown in an article about population dynamics, is to identify where the largest number of electricity meters are being installed under the business category, that also have positive electricity consumption (suggesting active companies). Figure 1 shows the 25 municipalities that have added the largest number of business electricity meters (with positive electricity consumption) between 2013 and 2016.

The municipality of Cochabamba stands out in Figure 1, with an average annual increase of 1,800 business meters between 2013 and 2016. Even more impressive is that the other six municipalities, that are part of the metropolitan area of Cochabamba, are also included in this list (in green), which means that the metropolitan area of Cochabamba in total is increasing about 3,300 new business meters annually (net), suggesting a very important business dynamism.

The metropolitan area of La Paz (in red), led by El Alto, increased an average of 2,350 business meters per year during the period between 2013-2016. In the Santa Cruz metropolitan area, only Santa Cruz de la Sierra reached the list of the 25 municipalities with the highest increase in the number of business meters, with an average of 1,100 per year.

Figure 1: The 25 municipalities with the highest increases in the number of business electricity meters with positive consumption, 2013-2016

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderon (2019)

The size of the company behind each business meter can vary between regions, so it is also interesting to see the increase in the amount of electricity consumption of companies in each municipality.

Figure 2 shows the 25 municipalities with the highest increase in business electricity consumption. There are important differences in comparison to Figure 1. In particular, the metropolitan area of Santa Cruz proves to be the most important, with an average annual increase in business electricity consumption of 70 GWh.

From this perspective, the metropolitan area of Cochabamba falls into second place, increasing approximately 53 GWh annually. And the Metropolitan area of La Paz proves to grow much slower, with an increase of only 8 GWh per year.

Important intermediate municipalities that stand out in Figure 2, are: Montero, Puerto Quijarro, Cuatro Cañadas, Punata, Challapata, Rurrenabaque, Santivañez, Atocha, Entre Ríos (Cochabamba), and Pailón.

Figure 2: The 25 municipalities with the highest increase in the consumption of electricity in the business category (excluding mining), 2013-2016

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019)

 Electricity-using companies mainly belong to the tertiary sector (services and trade) in urban areas, while agricultural oriented companies and the transport sector tend to use diesel as its main source of energy.

Figure 3 shows the 25 municipalities with the largest increases in the expenditure of diesel oil between 2016 and 2018. The city of El Alto stands out with an increase of more than 30 million liters per year; almost four times greater than the second municipality (Camiri). The metropolitan area of Cochabamba almost does not register on this list (only the municipality of Sipe Sipe). Intermediate municipalities are much more prominent on this list. From higher to lower increase in diesel oil sales, we observe the following municipalities: Camiri, Quillacollo, Caranavi, Cuatro Cañadas, Mineros, Rurrenabaque, Riberalta, Uyuni, Puerto Suarez, Villa Tunari, Colomi, El Puente (Santa Cruz), Pailón, San José de Chiquitos, San Julián, San Antonio de Lomerío, y San Borja. 

Figure 3: The 25 municipalities with the highest increases in diesel oil sales between 2016 and 2018

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019), based on data provided by ANH.

 The consumption of gasoline is not as closely related to business activities because it is mainly used to fuel private cars. However, municipalities where car ownership is increasing rapidly, probably suggests the presence of successful entrepreneurs and employees.

Figure 4 again highlights the huge increase in the sales of fuels in El Alto. On average, between 2016 and 2018 the sales of gasoline increased by 39 million liters per year.

Figure 4: The 25 municipalities with the highest increases in the sales of gasoline between 2016 and 2018

Source:
Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019), based on data provided by ANH.

The preceding four figures illustrate different types of business dynamics in different parts of the country, and it is difficult to summarize. However, El Alto is indisputably the municipality with most business dynamism in Bolivia, as it appears in all four figures, and if not first, it is at least in a very high position. The only other municipality that appears in all four figures is Quillacollo, which is located in the metropolitan area of Cochabamba.

Table 1 shows the 53 municipalities that appear at least once in Figures 1 to 4, with the most dynamic ones listed first in each category. Figure 5 shows the location of the same 53 municipalities on a map. 

Table 1: The 53 municipalities with most business dynamism in Bolivia, 2013-2018

(the municipalities that appear at least once in the previous four figures)

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón (2019)

Figure 5: Map of the 53 municipalities with the highest business dynamism in Bolivia, 2013-2018 (the municipalities appearing at least once in the previous four figures).

Source: Andersen, Branisa & Calderón, Map by Lily Peñaranda

Some preliminary conclusions that arise from this data:

  • The metropolitan area of Cochabamba seems particularly successful in encouraging small enterprises in the service sector.
  • The transport sector in El Alto is increasing extremely rapidly, which has interesting implications that require more research.
  • There are many different centres of economic activity in Bolivia, and this information can serve as basis for a more informed territorial development policy.

Notes:

(1) Fundempresa is the institution where all privately owned companies ought to register in Bolivia.

(2) Bolivia ranked second, after Georgia, in the IMF’s global shadow economy ranking (158 countries) that took into account data between 1991 and 2015. Bolivia’s  average informal economic activity is as high as 62.28% according to the Working Paper published in 2018.

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* Lykke E. Andersen, Ph.D., Executive Director OF SDSN Bolivia.

** 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 CIS is a member.

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.

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

** 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.

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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