Bolivia: ACLO Forges Ahead in Strengthening Indigenous Leadership


Update to the Global Board
(October 2008)

Fundación Acción Cultural Loyola (ACLO)

Executive Summary

In Bolivia, The Hunger Project works in partnership with Fundación Acción Cultural Loyola (ACLO).

As many of you know, the Bolivian people are facing the enormous challenge of forging themselves as a multicultural democracy. Highly controversial issues include the drafting of a new constitution which will ensure citizens rights and establish ways for all citizens to benefit equitably from the countries' primary economic assets: oil, natural gas, minerals, land.

There has been ongoing social unrest and periods of violence. During this period, rural indigenous communities also faced challenges of rebuilding homes, crops, infrastructure, and land which has been damaged and destroyed by an unusually severe El Niño cycle.

ACLO has managed to successfully meet program objectives in the first half of 2008:

  • Completing the first cycle of trainings for the three-year project to create a cadre of rural and indigenous leaders with advanced skills, including negotiation, alliance building, advocacy, and proposal writing, in collective exercise of power in the context of local development (project begun in 2007);
  • Launching the new radio soap opera, "Valentina" which focuses on the life of a young woman leader in her rural community;
  • Building capacity and accountability for disaster response, risk management and preparedness in communities hardest hit by El Niño;
  • Ongoing training and support of "people's reporters" and broadcasting the 72 weekly programs of Radio ACLO.

At the same time, ACLO has been a strong public voice in defending the rights of indigenous people and empowering them to be knowledgeable, articulate, responsible and effective participants in the political process.

Details on Progress

Created, structured and launched a training program for rural leaders which integrated social, economic, cultural and political themes for effective local development.

  • Formed and trained three regional teams of technical educators, seven women and five men.
  • Implemented the first cycle of trainings in advocacy, proposal writing and political impact: three regional workshops with 140 leaders, 62 women and 78 men.

Increased public awareness and motivation for civic participation.

  • Held 72 one-hour weekly radio programs in Quechua and Spanish.

Strengthened rural women's negotiating skills and increased participation in decision-making processes.

  • 62 women in three regions participated in trainings and drafted proposals for their community organizations; the submitted proposals were integrated into the Annual Operating Plans of three municipios.

Increased public acceptance and support for women leaders.

  • Completed scripting of 40 episodes of the radio soap opera "Valentina";
  • Completed production for broadcast in October and November.

Built community and municipal capacity to respond to emergency conditions and reduce risk of future damage.

  • "Risk Management Committees" were established in four municipalities, through collaboration with local authorities, union leaders and community families.
  • Distributed food and tools to 170 most effected families, and influenced authorities to earmark funds for future preparedness.

Objectives Not Yet Achieved

On a goal of training 180 leaders, we reached 78 percent success, or 140 leaders. Participation in training sessions was irregular due to political unrest and the urgent need to replant and rebuild after flood destruction.

Recent Innovations

To overcome the situation of political polarization and ensure that people have a range of information required for full civic participation, we expanded the broadcast range of Radio ACLO, formerly broadcasting only in rural areas, to include some sections of urban Potosí, Sucre and Tarija. This provides a way for poor rural and indigenous people who have migrated to the cities to hear news, analysis and points of view not voiced on the national media outlets. It also provides a means for more people to be informed as the political and social situations evolve. In addition, we generated information bulletins and created community forums for sharing opinions, concerns and proposals for peaceful conflict resolution.

Monitoring and Evaluation

ACLO will continue to submit regular reports of its progress and results based on its own internal monitoring and evaluation systems.


ACLO has implemented productive partnerships in the municipalities of Alcala, El Villar, Sopachuy and Tarvita to improve farmers' production and market access and to work collectively for fair market prices and improved conditions for families. The umbrella association, started in 2001, is called ASOVITA (first letters of the four municipalities), and partnership organizations (the latest founded in 2006) are:

  1. Association of Agricultural Producers, Livestock and Forestry of River Milanes, with 217 partners in Sopachuy and Tarvita;
  2. Association of Forestry and Agricultural Producers of Villar, with 224 members;
  3. Association of Agricultural Producers of Alcala, with 266 members; and
  4. Association of Agricultural Producers of San Pedro and Tarvita, with 80 partners.

ACLO is also a member of the National Union of Institutions for Labor Social Action (inter-agency coordination), Network for Radio Education of Bolivia (strengthening the identity of the Quechua people), Latin American Association for Radio Education (developing Latin American popular radio communication to serve poor and marginalized sectors), Rural Secretariat (a network of international organizations doing sustainable rural development in the Andean region), Platform for Soil Conservation and Management (facilitates the analysis and discussion of issues framed in sustainable rural development), and Network of Citizen Participation (sharing experiences and work methodologies that will strengthen the capacities of civil society).

Future Plans

In the last quarter of 2008 and first quarter 2009, ACLO will implement the second cycle of trainings in collective exercise of power in the context of local development, training 220 local leaders to achieve the three year total of 360 trained leaders.

The radio soap opera, "Valentina," will begin broadcasting in Spanish and Quechua in October and continue into the coming months, over three Radio ACLO systems in Potosí, Chuquisaca and Tarija.

Lastly, ACLO will create and implement public forums to promote transparency and civic participation, with special focus to increasing understanding of the new constitution at community, sub regional, and municipal levels, and in all ongoing workshops in leadership and skills training.

Country Profile

Population9,500,000 (male 4,700,000; female 4,800,000)
Indigenous Population4,900,000
Percent of population in rural areas36%
Infant mortality rate51
Maternal mortality rate420/100,000 live birhts
Life Expectancy63.9 at birth
Percent of population undenourished23% (2002-2004)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate0.1%
HIV/AIDS - deaths<500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS4,900 (est. in 2003 for 2008 figure)
Literacy rate97.3 (male, 98.5%; female 96.1%)
Primary school enrollment96.5% (male 94%; female 96%)
GDP per capita$2,984
Population earning less than $1/day23.2%

Sources:; CIA World Fact Book; UN Statistical Division; 2008 World Population Data Sheet