Cochabamba Water War, Bolivia

<div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Description</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld"></td><td class="columns"><div class="less">In 1999 the US company Bechtel was granted the concession to manage water services in Cochabamba, Bolivias third largest city. The cost of water tripled and it became necessary to buy a license to access water resources and a licensing system for collecting rainwater was also introduced. After a year, 55 percent of local citizens still did not have access to water. In April 2000, hundreds of thousands marched on the streets of Cochabamba to protest against the Government, and forced it to revoke the Water Privatisation Law. The contract with the multinational company Bechtel was terminated and the water service concession re-advertised. The conflict, known as the Cochabamba Water War, became symbolic of the struggles fought to protect common rights, proving that popular participation could have a major influence on decision making in regard to the management of public services. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> There is a long history of peasant protests in this region characterized by a permanent shortage of water resources. In this context, the privatization of the municipal water distribution company, linked to a water transfer called Misicuni project, infuriated the local population in 2000. At the same time, at the national level, regulation of the water supply and sanitation was influenced by World Bank recommendations and the so-called Washington Consensus. The public reaction led to the formation of a Departmental Coordinating Platform for Water and Life, which which grew until the symbolic occupation of the city of Cochabamba was brutally repressed. Then,in April 2000, the Coordinadora submitted the privatizing measures to a popular referendum. The result was 90% favorable to public management. Facing such massive and permanent mobilization, the government finally decided to give up on the privatization, giving the water management to the Coordinadora (together with the considerable debt of the company). Since then, water management in Cochabamba has a public character, and it has emerged as a successful example of social movements against the advance of the water multinationals. However, there remain serious problems of supply in many areas of the city, which have been mitigated through the creation of water committees which govern the use according to community traditions. Oscar Olivera, one important leader, published in 2004 (in English translation) Cochabamba - Water War. Cochabamba 2000 came to be seen as a turning point against corporate neo-liberalism. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Basic Data</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Name</td><td>Cochabamba Water War, Bolivia</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Country</td><td><a href="/country/bolivia">Bolivia</a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Province</td><td>Cochabamba</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Site</td><td>Cochabamba</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Accuracy of Location</td><td>HIGH local level</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Source of Conflict</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (1st level)</td><td>Water Management</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Conflict (2nd level)</td><td>Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)<br /> Dams and water distribution conflicts<br /> Water access rights and entitlements</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Specific Commodities</td><td><a href='/commodity/water'>Water</a><br /><a href='/commodity/industrial-waste'>Industrial waste</a><br /></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Project Details and Actors</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Details</td><td class="columns"><div class="less">The increase in the water bills was of 300 percent. The average monthly water bill reached around US$12, while the average monthly wage was around US$60. </div><a class="seemore" href="#">See more...</a><div class="more" style="display:none"> percent of local citizens did not have access to water in 1999. <br/><br/><a class="seeless" href="#">(See less)</a></div></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Project Area (in hectares)</td><td>28400</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Type of Population</td><td>Urban</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Potential Affected Population</td><td>600000</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Start Date</td><td>1999</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Company Names or State Enterprises</td><td><a href='/company/international-water-ltd'>International Water Ltd <small>(IWS)</small></a> - <small> IWL was controlled by the American multinational company Bechtel and by the Italian company Edison - controlled by AEM di Milano, the Municipal Company of Milan, Italy. Today, the company operates as a subsidiary of Bechtel</small><br /><a href='/company/bechtel'>Bechtel</a><br /><a href='/company/edison'>EDISON International </a> from <a href='/country-of-company/italy'><small>Italy</small></a><br /><a href='/company/abengoa-sa'>ABENGOA S.A.</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/spain'><small>Spain</small></a><br /><a href='/company/semapa'>SEMAPA</a> from <a href='/country-of-company/bolivia'><small>Bolivia</small></a> - <small> public utility of the municipality of Cochabamba</small></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Relevant government actors</td><td>Ministry of the Interior - Bolivia, Bolivian Army and police, Government of Cochabamba</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">International and Financial Institutions</td><td><a href='/institution/world-bank'>The World Bank <small>(WB)</small></a><br /><a href='/institution/international-centre-for-settlement-of-investment-disputes'>International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes <small>(ICSID)</small></a> from <a href='/country-of-institution/united-states-of-america'><small>United States of America </small></a></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Environmental justice organisations and other supporters</td><td>FEDECOR, Associations of Farmers, Students and Workers of Cochabamba, Movimiento Cocalero, Observatory on Debt and Globalization, Committee for the Defence of Water and Life (Cochabamba)</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">The Conflict and the Mobilization</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)</td><td>HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">When did the mobilization begin</td><td>In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Groups Mobilizing</td><td>Indigenous groups or traditional communities<br /> Informal workers<br /> Local ejos<br /> Local government/political parties<br /> Neighbours/citizens/communities<br /> Social movements<br /> Local scientists/professionals</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Forms of Mobilization</td><td>Blockades<br /> Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)<br /> Creation of alternative reports/knowledge<br /> Development of a network/collective action<br /> Involvement of national and international NGOs<br /> Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism<br /> Media based activism/alternative media<br /> Objections to the EIA<br /> Official complaint letters and petitions<br /> Public campaigns<br /> Referendum other local consultations<br /> Street protest/marches</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Impacts</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Health Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Malnutrition, Deaths<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Socio-economic Impacts</td><td><strong>Visible: </strong>Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights<br /><strong>Potential: </strong>Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Outcome</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Project Status</td><td>Stopped</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Pathways for conflict outcome / response</td><td>Deaths<br /> Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area<br /> Institutional changes<br /> Court decision (victory for environmental justice)<br /> Strengthening of participation<br /> Project cancelled<br /> The decrease on the water price. End to privatization of urban water services. Water as a human right.</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Development of Alternatives</td><td>0</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Do you consider this as a success?</td><td>Yes</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Why? Explain briefly.</td><td>The water prices became as low as before the water privatization. </td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Sources and Materials</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Legislations</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Law n21060 in 1985<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Law 2029<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">References</td><td><table><tr><td><p> Oscar Olivera, Cochabamba water wars, 2004,<br/><a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Cochabamba y la nueva conciencia sobre el Agua. Fobomade 2001.<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> La guerra por el agua y por la vida. Ana Esther CeceƱa. 2004<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Los campesinos regantes en la guerra del agua de Cochabamba. Fedecor 2002.<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Villas de Chilimarca. Un proyecto alternativo de alcantarillado. A Sud 2006<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Perfiles de la protesta - Poltica y movimientos sociales en Bolivia. John Crabtree. 2005<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Miradas, Voces y Sonidos. Conflictos Ambientales en Bolivia. Gruenberger, Jenny (Edit.). OLCA. 1999<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Juicio de responsabilidades a Gonzalo Snchez de Lozada y sus colaboradores. Carovana internazionale in Bolivia. A Sud. 2005<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Revista Latinoamerica e tutti i sud del mondo N83-84. 2003<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Las canillas abiertas de Amrica Latina II. La Lucha contra la privatizacin del agua y los desafos de una gestin participativa y sustentable de los recursos hdricos. Grosse, Robert; Santos, Carlos; Taks, Javier; Thimmenl, Stefan. Ed. Zonalibro. 2006<br/></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> Revista Semillas N28: El agua un bien pblico patrimonio de los pueblos. 2006<br/></p></td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Links</td><td><table><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr><tr><td><p> <a class="refanch small" href="" target="_blank">[click to view]</a></p></td></tr></table></td></tr></tbody></table></div></div><div class="horipane"><div class="title active">Meta Information</div><div class="content"><table class="table"><tbody><tr><td class="fld">Contributor</td><td>Lucie Greyl & Joan Martinez Alier</td></tr><tr><td class="fld">Last update</td><td>30/12/2015</td></tr></tbody></table></div></div>