Argentina Argentina Bolivia Gran Chaco


$150,000 needed of $150,000

Implementing Organization

Church World Service (CWS)

Program Summary

The Argentina Bolivia Gran Chaco program is uniquely structured to work in two different remote areas of the Chaco with two different partners, based in two different countries. This is done to increase the visibility of the work being done in these often-ignored regions and to create more opportunities for mutual learning between the two partners. Due to differences in the political context in each country, the approaches are necessarily different. In the Argentina region of the Chaco the local partner is working to demonstrate to the national and local governments that rain water harvesting systems, climate smart agricultural techniques, and training in animal husbandry are a sustainable and viable approach to increasing food security and economic development for indigenous and criollo families living in the Chaco. The program is also being showcased as an effective approach in advocacy efforts with the national government. In Bolivia, the program is continuing the work of the local partner CERDET. In the previous phase, CERDET worked with communities to create community development plans. In this phase they are working to further strengthen the leadership skills of indigenous women and youth through training. 33 different communities in the program area are being invited to submit proposals for small scale income-generation or agricultural projects (average grant of less than $850).

Success Stories

Catching Raindrops Eases Tensions

Rebeca and Nestor are promoting peace in their communities thanks to rooftop rainwater harvesting. Conflicts over land and water rights between indigenous people and “criollo” settlers have been a reality for nearly 100 years in the Argentine and Bolivian Chaco. Today, the settlers are as poor as their indigenous neighbors, and the existence of both groups is threatened by frequent six-month droughts. As Nestor puts it, “When it comes to water, there is no difference between us.”

Rebeca is the granddaughter of a criollo rancher, and Nestor a member of the indigenous, historically hunter/gatherer Wichi people. They evaluate and work with communities in the hot, semi-arid region of South America known as the Gran Chaco to find solutions to their chronic water deficits.

Rebeca is one of the few women on a local inter-ethnic team that surveys families. The team calculates water needs and creates maps using GPS in order to ask authorities to prioritize assistance in these remote locations. Nestor is a skilled construction worker who builds 4,000-gallon cement cisterns to hold rainwater collected from rooftops during seasonal rains, and teaches others to do so as well. A natural peacemaker, he is often called on to help solve or prevent conflicts among the groups.

Storage tanks are a practical solution that is proving to ease tensions. Humans and livestock can drink the collected rainwater, and it can also be used for household and agricultural needs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to carry out during dry seasons.

Photo caption: Rebeca puts community at ease

Argentina-Bolivia Gran Chaco program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner CERDET
45 communities, 318 households, 2,226 individuals