Bolivia to seek US$500mn in loans for sewage treatment plants

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bolivia will request US$500mn in international cooperation funding to build sewage treatment plants in the country, which is in the grips of its worst drought in 30 years.

The government aims to build treatment plants over the next four years in the municipalities of La Paz, Sipe, Vinto, Quillacollo and Sacaba, deputy water and sewerage minister Julia Collado said. Municipal governments will be required to provide part of the financing, she said.

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The government has prepared studies for plants in Santa Cruz department, Collado told state news agency ABI.

President Evo Morales in November declared a national emergency and sacked his top water officials for failing to warn the government about a lack of water supply in La Paz, a highland city of 800,000 people. State water utility Epsas has restricted services to 12 hours a day in more than 100 neighborhoods in La Paz.

The eastern Andean region is facing the effects of both global warming and the La Niña phenomenon, where cooler ocean temperatures cause drought in the highlands, affecting crops and livestock.

Lake Poopó, once the country's second largest lake, is drying up again after it was partially replenished during the rainy season, Morales said on Twitter. The Oruro department lake, which once covered an area of 2,337km2, made headlines when it dried up completely in 2015.

Morales has pledged US$48.6bn in infrastructure and energy investments over the next five years, but his government is struggling to line up financing as economic growth slows. Bolivia, which depends on natural gas for half its export revenue, saw revenue from shipments of the fuel drop 19% to US$7.21bn last year.


In other infrastructure news, construction and public works will help drive 4.7% GDP growth this year, while annual inflation is expected to run at 5%, finance minister Luis Arce said. The construction industry will expand 8% this year, followed by electricity and water (7.6%), banking (6%), mining (5.5%) and manufacturing (5%), according to the ministry. Hydrocarbons are expected to grow just 1.2% in 2017.