Evaluation of a rural development project in Southwest Cochabamba, Bolivia, and its agroforestry activities involving Polylepis besseri and other native species – a decade of lessons learned
This report evaluates the results of the PROSANA project (GTZ/Department of Cochabamba) that ran for a 10-year period until the early 2000’s, and its attempts to combat food insecurity and promote conservation of relic forests and the restoration of agroecosystem function by planting mixed forests including Polylepis besseri. Well-adapted socio-ecological systems started to degrade in the region centuries ago with forced relocation of populations to higher, steep slopes and the introduction of European sheep and goats. Presently, firewood collection and grazing prevent the recovery of ecosystems.
Conclusions & Takeaways
The evaluation found that the PROSANA project succeeded in developing new organizational structures in local communities. The project brought in many development partners that improved services such as clean water, roads, healthcare, and irrigation. The project demonstrated the potential of several native species for agroforestry and demonstrated the technical feasibility of stopping degradation. The project failed at effectively stabilizing agroecosystems and natural vegetation, solving grazing issues, or affecting primary drivers of degradation. Lessons learned included the following: this was a development area at a high-risk of failure due to climatic factors and several centuries of degradation – model projects might not work; locals are not aware of a shifting baseline of degradation, have an agro-centric view of protecting natural resources, a sense of fatalism and want to see results before acting; the project teams had challenges adapting to local conditions; partner NGOs did not perform as expected; a relative lack of resources was expected to combat a very advanced level of degradation; resources were spread over too large of an area and there was an ineffective organizational model.
Ibisch, P. L. "Evaluation of a rural development project in Southwest Cochabamba, Bolivia, and its agroforestry activities involving Polylepis besseri and other native species—A decade of lessons learned." Ecotropica 8.2 (2002): 205-218.
- Integrated Expert, Fundacion Amigos de la Naturaleza Noel Kempff / CIM, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
- Botanical Institute of the University of Bonn, Department of Systematics and Biodiversity; Bonn, Germany