Water privatization in Bolivia

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The privatization of water supply and sanitation in Bolivia took place during the second mandate of Bolivian President Hugo Banzer (1997-2001) in the form of two major private concessions: One in La Paz/El Alto to Aguas del Illimani S.A. (AISA), a subsidiary of the French Suez (formerly Lyonnaise des Eaux) in 1997; and a second one in Cochabamba to Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of the multinationals Biwater and Bechtel in 1999.


The World Bank and the International Development Bank highlighted water privatization as a requirement for the Bolivian government in order to retain ongoing state loans [1]


It is argued that the privatization process did little with regards to addressing access to water and that the increase in water prices following such measures was met by an approximate 2% increase in levels of poverty. [2]

Following two popular uprisings against water privatization, the first in Cochabamba in April 2000 and the second in La Paz/El Alto in January 2005, the two concessions were terminated. In the latter case, Aguas de Illimani was replaced by the public utility Empresa Pública Social de Agua y Saneamiento (EPSAS).

The public water utility came under some criticism in 2008 due to water shortages, accounting errors, tariff increases and poor disaster preparedness. Consequently, representatives of the La Paz neighborhood association announced to create their own service provider.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gordon, Frederick (2008). Freshwater resources and interstate cooperation: strategies to mitigate an environmental risk. SUNY Press. 
  2. ^ Ferranti, David (2004). Inequality in Latin America: breaking with history?. World Bank Publications. 
  3. ^ "EPSAS recibe críticas a su labor y la transición agrava el problema." (in Spanish). La Razón. 2008-02-11. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-14.