Bolivia: Climate change, poverty and adaptation

Bolivia is a country particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In July 2009, a team of Oxfam researchers travelled to three areas of Bolivia (Trinidad in Beni, the Cochabamba valleys and Khapi under Mount Illimani, in La Paz) to take a snapshot of how poor families are experiencing the changing climate, and how they are adapting to it.

The climate is already changing

Poor women and men throughout Bolivia are already experiencing the consequences of climate change, but in most cases are ill-equipped to adapt to the present and future impacts. Women are often the hardest hit.

Bolivia can expect five main impacts as a result of climate change:

  • Less food security
  • Glacial retreat affecting water availability
  • More frequent and more intense ‘natural’ disasters
  • An increase in mosquito-borne diseases
  • More forest fires

Key recommendations

  • Delivering climate justice must be at the heart of a post 2012 agreement on climate change, in particular through rich countries committing to deep emissions cuts and ensuring a massive transfer of resources and technology to vulnerable countries.
  • In the shift to a low-carbon development model, the international community should engage with and learn from Bolivia’s vision for more sustainable approaches to development.
  • The needs and role of women should be at the center of national and international adaptation policies.
  • Bolivia needs to develop and implement an overarching national policy on climate change.
  • Disaster risk reduction needs to be made part of long-term planning at all levels of government and institutional capacity in this area strengthened.
  • An agricultural insurance scheme should be introduced in order to protect food security. This should be a priority for international adaptation funding.