At the start of the new millennium, environmental protection was still in its infancy. Building on decades of experience in Central America and Peru, Swisscontact launched the “Clean Air” project in Bolivia in 2003 and now looks back at 15 years of successful project implementation. CO2 emissions have decreased by 370,000 tonnes.
After 15 years, the Clean Air project boasts impressive results. 12 Bolivian cities have participated in designing sustainable mobility plans and are currently implementing them. Thanks to “Clean Air”, there are now many clean air specialists who have equipped urban transport with modern public transport vehicles such as buses, cable cars, and tramways.
Relieving traffic congestion with a cable car
The “Mi Teleférico” cable car has transported over 100 million passengers through La Paz since 2014. In the same time, 40 million passengers have used the new “Puma Katari” city bus transport system. Although over the last 15 years the number of motor vehicles in the country increased six-fold to over 1.8 million, particulate matter pollution has remained the same in La Paz. Thanks to Bolivia’s decentralised government structures, the authorities in Bolivia’s largest cities La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz were also brought into the project. “Clean Air” attracted US$2 billion in public investments in modern and reliable public transport systems, from which more than half of Bolivia’s population has benefited.
Awareness campaign in the network of municipalities to monitor air quality
At the start of the project, awareness campaigns sensitised the population to the effects of air pollution on health. Subsequently, air quality management offices were opened in these municipalities. Intensive technical training of city officials led to the “Red MoniCA” national-level air quality measurement network, implemented thanks to low-cost technology. A newly introduced vehicle inspection programme now plays an important role in environmental sensitisation of drivers. Imports of used cars were significantly reduced and 12 cities are now in the process of implementing their sustainable urban mobility plans.
Bolivia has yet to resolve its air pollution problem, but it is on the right track and ready to face new challenges. “Clean Air” has shown that sustainable environmental solutions can only be achieved by working directly with local authorities and the population.
“Clean Air” was a project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact.