Ixiamas-San Buenaventura Road Project (Bolivia)

In May 2011 the World Bank approved a $129 million loan to the Bolivian Government to finance the National Roads and Airport Infrastructure Project in Bolivia, with the goal of rehabilitating the existing road between Ixiamas and San Buenaventura and improving the safety, security and operational reliability of the Rurrenabaque Airport.

The road project between Ixiamas and San Buenaventura, including a Participatory Working Group and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), represents the most concrete opportunity for the northern region of La Paz (namely, local governmental institutions, local organizations, peasant/settler communities, indigenous peoples, and the general population of the region) to bring environmental considerations into regional planning from the very first stages of the process. It presents the most concrete opportunity for the regional population to promote effective and informed participation in order to construct a  regional vision of the northern region of La Paz through the road. Avoiding or mitigating the negative effects of the indirect and induced impacts caused by the road project depends on the level of effective participation by local stakeholders, communities, and indigenous leaders in making decisions about the territorial planning process and the SEA that will directly affect their communities.

Through the road and its SEA, one can form a vision for the region, including conservation through the adequate management of natural resources, the reduction of poverty, and the creation of opportunities by the region and for the region. This is the starting point for a regional reality and regional demand. In this way, a fair distribution of benefits can jointly be obtained, putting value on traditional lifestyles and cultures in the region and conserving its ecosystem.

This webpage is an attempt to provide information about the territorial planning process and the road construction project, highlighting the most relevant information about future challenges and opportunities during the construction phase and about the implementation and operation of different social and environmental plans – including the SEA – that form an important part of the Ixiamas-San Buenaventura road project.

Location of  the Madidi National Park (PN) and Madidi Integrated Management Natural Area (ANMI) along the route from Ixiamas to San Buenaventura.

Protected Areas of Conservation and Biodiversity

The northern region of La Paz contains some of the world’s most biologically diverse areas, such as the Madidi Protected Area, which includes the Madidi National Park (PN) and Madidi Integrated Management Natural Area (ANMI). The Ixiamas-San Buenaventura road project runs along the border of this protected area. The Madidi Protected Area and the Pilón Lajas Biosphere Reserve and Communal Lands are furthermore strategically located within the Andean region,  considered passageways to a corridor of habitats that spans reserves in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

Madidi as one of the central areas of conservation and strategic interest in the Andean region

More Than a Road

The Ixiamas-San Buenaventura road is a necessity. It responds to the strong demand from the population in the northern region of La Paz to be connected to the rest of the country. The road brings with it great expectations for economic and social improvements through an increase in productive opportunities, from agricultural farming and forest management to tourism. The road is seen as the impetus to satisfy the land’s productive capacity through land-use plans and to improve legal security with respect to land and territory.Similarly, the road as seen as the means to meet unsatisfied social demands related to quality of and access to public services: coverage, level, and quality of drinking water; lack of sewer systems and sewage treatment; the need to increase access to electric energy; the need for health centers with timely and competent medical care; the need for improvements in education through infrastructure and qualified staff, along with the need for higher levels of education to be provided.

The road’s area of influence, including areas of direct influence (black lines) and indirect influence (red and blue lines).

Road projects must form part of planning initiatives that have a greater scope than the road itself, namely, territorial development plans linked to productive undertakings, policies of territorial occupation, and  the expansion of basic services where road improvements increase the economic viability of other initiatives.

Taking into consideration the potential, multiplicative effects that the improvement of the road would create in the region in terms of incentives for future investments, it is critical to understand that “Ixiamas-San Buenaventura is more than a road” and needs to be dealt with within a regional analysis and planning process that includes the entire northern region of La Paz. It is for this reason that the Ixiamas-San Buenaventura road project represents an important and unquestionable opportunity to push forward and strengthen a governance scenario in the northern region of La Paz.