The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)’s Environmental Safeguards Compliance Policy requires consultations with the beneficiaries/affected communities as part of the environmental assessment in Bank-funded operations. At the same time, environmental legislation in Bolivia recognizes the importance of citizen participation in specific decision-making processes related to projects, works or activities, as long as they are channeled through the Territorial Grassroots Organizations (OTBs, after their Spanish initials). Transparent, significant consultations with relevant stakeholders are a fundamental pillar of informed decision-making and good governance. They also add real value to projects.
When designing the Bolivia Resilient to Climate Risks project, a consultation process was held in five municipalities (Cercado, Quillacollo, Sipe Sipe, Vinto, and Colcapirhua). To do so, the Ministry of Environment and Water (MMAyA) developed a consultation strategy based on the political-social organization and structure which led to a more efficient use of resources and a significant citizen and communal participation through municipal authorities, neighborhood committees, and representatives of the indigenous communities.
The consultation process was conducted with the participation of the Government of the Autonomous Department of Cochabamba –through its River Basins Directorate– and the five municipalities in the metropolitan area, which have relationships with several social organizations, including:
- Agrarian Unions;
- Bartolina Sisa Women’s Organization;
- Neighborhood councils and OTB’s; and
- Producers’ and Irrigation Associations.
This relationship paved the way for a quick identification of the beneficiary population and for holding the consultations in customary locations, using both already planned or newly arranged meetings in familiar environments and employing adequate methodology, including the use of Quichua, the local language. Female participation was also strong, with women accounting for 34.4 percent of participants. All this helped optimize the use of time and meet the objective of consulting with relevant players.
Gathering the interested parties in a space they were familiar with made it easier for people to express concerns, doubts, and propose solutions, therefore extending the benefits of the project. For example, it was agreed that the number of gabions and floodgates should be increased, and that embankment walkability should be improved. All of this was recorded, signed and sealed by the participants and organizations they represent, allowing beneficiaries to keep track of the agreements reached during the consultation process.
The IDB is working on improving our engagement with stakeholders and communities in development projects. Every project we finance which has an environmental and social risk requires consultations with affected parties and consideration of their views. In projects financed by the IDB, stakeholder consultation is primarily the responsibility of the borrower through the implementing agency for the project, but the IDB has a complementary role throughout the project cycle, to explain, advise and provide support.